Although Sherie Hildreth died in 2009, her legacy lives on in the upcoming Sherie Hildreth Ovarian Cancer Foundation’s Ninth Annual Empowerment Day Walk and Run set for Saturday, Aug. 3.

Hildreth, a longtime teacher at Kraxberger Elementary School in Gladstone, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October 2004, and the first empowerment event took place in August 2005.

by: PHOTO BY DICK TRTEK - Runners and walkers get off to a rousing start at they head out on last year's SHOC Foundation Empowerment Walk/Run in Gladstone.“When Sherie started this foundation and created the event with friends, I was all in because she asked me for my help, and who could refuse the one you love? When Sherie passed in 2009, she requested that we keep the foundation and event going to make a difference for those women still struggling with their diagnosis, along with those yet to be,” said Bruce Hildreth, Sherie’s husband and president of the SHOC Foundation.

Funding research

The walk/run is the SHOC Foundation’s largest fundraising event of the year, he said. The proceeds from this event and others provide funding for the Gynecologic Oncology lab at Oregon Health & Science University’s Knight Cancer Institute, where Dr. Tanja Pejovic does ovarian cancer research, looking for an early detection marker for this deadly disease.  

“We have also been able to fund the set-up of the Oregon Ovarian Cancer Registry and keep the process in motion, which gathers vital information from diagnosed women as well as other members of their family. This has been a boost to our research,” Hildreth said, noting, that the SHOC Foundation’s annual gift for 2013 will place the total to date at well over $500,000.

It is important for people to continue supporting the annual SHOC walk/run, because ovarian cancer is the fifth deadliest cancer among women, partly due to misinformation and lack of awareness about the disease, said Ashley Hildreth, Sherie and Bruce Hildreth’s daughter, and executive administrator for the foundation.

“This run is SHOC’s largest fundraiser. Not only does it bring in crucial dollars for research, but also the marketing of it allows us to make a splash in surrounding communities,” she said.

She added that the power of her mother’s legacy “compounds with every passing year. And it never ceases to amaze me how many people care enough about her story and SHOC’s purpose to stand with us in the fight.”

Lori Dayton, Sherie Hildreth’s sister and the marketing and sponsorship coordinator for the foundation, said the event made her sister so happy, both with the money raised and how the organization gets the word out to educate women. “To this day, I still meet at least two women a week who don’t know that there is really no test for ovarian cancer; that their annual exam is only telling them whether or not they have cervical cancer,” she said.

“I really feel like we are starting to make a difference and perhaps someday they will find a test for ovarian cancer.  Our goal is to save lives, whatever it takes.”

Wide support for cause

Bruce Hildreth said that event partners Gladstone’s Latus Motors Harley-Davidson, Compass Oncology, Toyota of Gladstone and PGE are the longest and most committed business entities helping with the walk/run, along with donations from other business partners and individuals who have written checks.

“But I cannot stress more my heartfelt thanks to the SHOC’s board members, advisers and the multitude of passionate volunteers who understand what we are trying to accomplish and therefore contributing their valuable time and effort for our cause,” he added.

“Every person who has touched our event in one way or another — be it a participant, volunteer, sponsor, private donor or contributor — is critical to the success of our event, and, ultimately, to the support we are able to provide to the gynecologic cancer community,” Ashley Hildreth said, adding that the organization is run 100 percent by volunteers.

“We try to make the SHOC Walk fun for the whole family, and we can’t thank our sponsors enough for everything they do. The more we don’t have to pay for, the more money we are able to raise and donate,” said Dayton, noting that she misses her sister, but knows she is watching over the organization.Geri Matin, Sherie Hildreth’s mother, said she misses her daughter terribly, but is so proud of how she handled her illness and of what she accomplished while going through her treatment.

She said she wants to thank “all the volunteers at the walk and throughout the year who continue to help us. Most of these were friends and fellow workers of Sherie’s. So important, of course, are our sponsors. We would be nowhere without them, and they are so generous and reliable year after year.”

Survivors’ stories

In addition to the walk/run itself, the event on Aug. 3 also is set up as a gathering spot for survivors of gynecological cancers, who are given teal T-shirts emblazoned with “Survivor,” and treated to a free breakfast.

During the opening ceremony this year, one of the speakers will be Phyllis Lang, who has survived both ovarian and breast cancer.

She was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October 1996, has experienced “bumps along the way,” but has had no recurrences of that cancer since 2006. She was, however, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, and said more people need to be aware that there are connections between the two.

Her grandmother had both breast cancer and ovarian cancer and her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 30. Her doctor removed her ovaries at the time, and Lang is sure that is what allowed her mother to survive.

Lang first met Sherie Hildreth in 2006 at a health fair, and felt an “instant connection” with her, and has been attending the SHOC walk/run since 2007.

The theme of her speech on Aug. 3 will be about how she always wanted to do something in regards to ovarian cancer, but had no idea how to get started.

“Sherie had that ability to make people listen, follow and do. We became friends, and now I don’t just do the run for the cause, I do it for the Hildreth family and for everyone involved. They are just so dedicated.”

Acknowledging that there are a lot of cancer organizations out there that deserve support, Lang said she continues to back the SHOC Foundation, because “well over 90 percent of its funds go to funding research at the genetic level, and that is the way I feel will lead to a breakthrough. And especially because the organization is in the Portland area, I know all the money is staying in the community.”

She added, “I will wrap up my speech by saying that because of SHOC, I feel like I am contributing, and everyone at the event is contributing” to research on gynecological cancers.

Take a walk

What: The Sherie Hildreth Ovarian Cancer Foundation presents the Ninth Annual Empowerment Day Walk and Run

When: Saturday, Aug. 3; 6:30 a.m. registration, 7:30 a.m. opening ceremony, 8 a.m walk/run. The route moves along the Clackamas River and through Gladstone.

Where: Registration takes place at Latus Motors Harley-Davidson, 870 E. Berkeley, in Gladstone.

Cost: $35 adults, $15 youths, ages 6 to 12

Details: For more information and to register online, visit

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