June 07, 2009

Team Tony's Walk of Life Comes Home to Sarasota

When Tony McEachern walked into downtown Sarasota's Five Points Park Saturday afternoon, he was greeted with hundreds of cheering supporters, welcoming him home to complete the last leg of his Walk of Life. Tony began the walk on April 25th at Duke University's Angels Among Us 5k Fundraiser, and in 43 days he walked 803 miles to raise money for Brain Cancer research at Duke's Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center. With the help of a very generous anonymous donor who is matching every dollar raised, Tony McEachern generated over $36,000 in six weeks.

At Five Points Park, Tony and dozens of walkers stopped briefly to hug many family members and friends, meet new supporters, and address the crowd. Tony introduced his sister, Nicole, who has been with Tony every step of the way, as well as his friend and walk co-organizer Dale O'Hara.

Two policemen on horseback then escorted Tony, Nicole, and the crowd of hundreds along the last two-plus miles of the Walk of Life, through downtown Sarasota, then south on Osprey Avenue. Among walkers present were Sarasotans of all ages, McEachern's family and friends, brain cancer patients and survivors, and prominent community figures such as Cliff Roles, and City Commissioner Suzanne Atwell.

"What a powerful display of collective commitment to such an important cause," said Atwell, pictured with a Sarasota Brain Cancer patient, who receives treatment from Gainesville's Shands Hospital. "Tony's courage, fortitude, and persistence were a joy to watch and follow. As a new City Commissioner, I am proud to represent a community that can rally around such a brave citizen of Sarasota that is Tony McEachern."

The walk concluded at Village Bikes, which Tony has frequented as both a world-class cyclist and athlete, and as an employee. There to greet him were many more supporters, including City Commissioner Terry Turner, catering from Chutney's Etc. and Gecko's Grill and Pub, and several local business members. The Sarasota YMCA presented Tony with a year's free membership, and Gateway Bank gave him a check for over $3,000. McEachern also thanked Sunset Chevrolet for their generosity in donating support vehicles, and the Sarasota New Balance team for supplying him with five pairs of walking shoes.

In his celebration speech, McEachern said he will not stop fighting for the cause. "A disease is not a curse, it's a cause," says McEachern. "I will never stop fighting for brain cancer research." McEachern's goal is to rasie $100,000 for Duke's Brain Tumor Center, to whose research he credits his life. Because of the support of his family, friends, and community, as well as Duke's anonymous donor, Tony's goal is well within reach.
Welcome home, Tony!