The Fight Keeps Running


by Lonni Leavitt-Barker, photos by Mark Dyrud

There are those who go the extra mile and then there are those who go the extra 420 miles. In the next few months, Eagle’s Dena McLauchlin will crisscross the country as she takes part in all seven of the Susan G. Komen’s 3-Day walks.

It is an expensive undertaking. Not only does she have to pay for her expenses to get her to each race (Twin Cities, Seattle, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Dallas, Michigan, and San Diego), she also has to raise 16 thousand dollars to go towards finding a cure for breast cancer.

McLauchlin has already raised 10 grand by holding a “Party in Pink” fundraiser and selling baked goods and greeting cards.

You’d think with this huge commitment and high level of passion that she was a survivor herself. She’s not. “I’ve lost my best friend, two aunts, and then two years after I lost my best friend, I lost another friend,” said McLauchlin. “And I have several friends currently going through treatment.”

With as prevalent as cancer has become, it would be a challenge to find a family who has not been touched by the disease through a neighbor, co-worker, friend, or relative. It would also be a challenge to find someone as passionate about supporting breast cancer research as Dena McLauchlin.

“My best friend who died was my soul sister. We married the same year, had two daughters the same age, had almost identical wedding dresses and had the same middle names,” said McLauchlin. “When we met, it was as if we’d known each other our whole lives.”

So when her friend Jean was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, it should come as no surprise the first call she made was to McLauchlin. “I promised her when she passed, I would keep fighting for her.”

And fight she does.

She will start her tribute treks the first weekend in August by going to Michigan all by herself. On the first of the three days, she’ll log 24 miles but she won’t be alone. She will join thousands of others as they laugh, cry, remember the lives lost, and celebrate those who have beat cancer.

“I know so many people through the 3-Day community, the staff and other walkers, I never feel like I’m by myself,” said McLauchlin. “It is like a big family.”

As if her commitment isn’t remarkable enough, almost exactly one year ago she had a full knee replacement after injuring her knee as she crossed the finish line of, yes, you guessed it, a cancer walk.

“Some people call me crazy,” said McLauchlin. Crazy? No. Passionate? Yes.


If you’d like to assist Dena McLauchlin with her fundraising goals visit her donation page:

Or you can support her sponsors: