Four years ago the Riverwalk Freedom Festival, a two-day event held each year the weekend after Labor Day in downtown Milford, began with Operation Giveback, an event designed to give thanks to veterans and current military members for their service to the country. This year organizers from the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Milford partnered with MilfordLIVE.com and Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition to select Hometown Heroes, one male and one female from the Milford community that demonstrate community service in an extraordinary fashion. Jim Newton was honored Friday night as the first ever male Riverwalk Freedom Festival Hometown Hero.
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. Since then, 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.
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.