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Ken 2.0: Mother's story inspires charity walk

Ken is walking in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in memory of his mother, who died of breast and lung cancer. He hopes you'll join him.
By Ken Raymond Published: September 26, 2010

My mother died of breast and lung cancer in 2001, just a few weeks shy of her 65th birthday.

I'm biased, of course, but I think she was amazing.

She was born into a large, impoverished family in West Virginia. I can never remember if she was one of 12 children or if she had 12 siblings, but either way, there were a lot of mouths to feed and not much money with which to feed them.

Fresh fruit, something I take for granted, was a special treat for my mother's family. They only got apples and oranges on Christmas morning.

My grandfather was a one-legged coal miner. He toiled in the dark for scrip to spend in the company store. When he couldn't work anymore, driven crazy by uncontrolled diabetes, my Mom dropped out of high school to help take care of the family.

She was a smart woman, though. One of her most bitter memories was of the spelling contest she lost in school. The prize was a full set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, something my mother wanted dearly, and she made it all the way to the final round. She lost on the word "encyclopedia," which she spelled "encylopaedia" because she'd stared at the Britannica set for so long. The judges wouldn't waver, and she went home empty-handed, carrying that disappointment with her the rest of her life.

She moved to Pennsylvania after her fiancé died in a motorcycle accident. There she met my father, whom she later married. They produced five children, of which I am the youngest. My parents emphasized academics, and all of their children went to college.

Mom never really worked outside the home. That didn't serve her well when my father, afflicted by pancreatic cancer, died young at age 53. Suddenly she was left on her own without much earning potential. She did what she could, scrimping and denying herself and falling back on the habits she'd learned as a poor child.

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Ken 2.0: Fat to Fit

Staff Writer Ken Raymond began a yearlong weight loss and fitness journey on April 1. Here are his stats:

Age: 41

Height: About 6 feet 1 inch

Beginning weight: 307 pounds

Current weight: 275 pounds


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