This year MilfordLIVE.com and organizers of the Riverwalk Freedom Festival from the Milford Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford are asking for the public’s help to identify two Hometown Heroes as one male and one female resident will be honored at the festival, held on Friday, September 11, 2015. As Milford families send in submissions, their stories and photos will be shared in The Weekly Review, on MilfordLIVE.com and on their social media sites. MilfordLIVE.com fan Stephanie Newton shared the story of her Hometown Hero, her father, Jim Newton.
Jim Newton has run for over 37 years, covered over 45,000 miles, completed 17 marathons, several half marathons and many more 10K’s and 5K’s. Environmental Program Manager for Kent County, and a resident of Milford, he has been seen frequently running around Milford and Harrington. By any measure, an outsider would assume that he is as healthy as any individual can be, but it was a lump he noticed on the side of his neck one day, that placed a giant obstacle in his way of a lifetime of healthy living.
In 2014 Newton found a large lump on the side of his neck and immediately went to see his physician. After numerous tests, it was determined that he had mantle cell lymphoma, a rare and aggressive blood cancer. He chose the treatment approach of pill swallowing and monthly IV injections in contrast to chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplant.
“Even though my dad was fighting for his life and was going through chemo, he still made it a goal to continue running and raising money to help find an end to cancer and to help other families who struggled with this disease,” said Stephanie Newton. “About a year from when he was diagnosed, he was declared in remission by his doctors. Because of how aggressive this cancer is, he will have to continue chemo and his meds for maybe years.”
Newton has supported numerous cancer causes through his running over the years, raising over $10,000 for cancer research by running the New York City Marathon and the Disney Goofy Challenge. In fact, he used his running efforts to help raise funds to fight leukemia and lymphoma as he ran the half marathon in Washington D.C. at the age of 65.
“I believe the oldest person to run a marathon is 105 so I have to get past this in order to reach that goal,” stated Newton in a 2014 interview with MilfordLIVE.com. “I have not let this diagnosis allow me to think ‘Oh my God, I’m going to die.’ We are all going to die but I want to reach these goals before I do.”
Although his own medical bills may become a burden as he continues to treat his own cancer, Newton feels that giving back to as many people as possible is the right thing to do. Personally, Newton is prepared to reach his own goals whether he is cancer free or not. He plans to run 50 marathons in 50 states and also to be the oldest person to run a marathon.
“My dad has taught me that no matter what, you should never give up, stay positive, have faith in God and always help others when you can,” said Stephanie. “He is my Hometown Hero.”
To submit a male or female candidate for the Hometown Hero award at this year’s Riverwalk Freedom Festival, local families can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions should include a photo of the individual and a short description of what makes them a hero. Candidates for the Hometown Hero title can be veterans or current military, first responders or other individuals in the community.