5/1/2014 11:20:00 AM Teacher walks half marathon for mom's memory
Marri Ashley photos
Tera Torres, Tracy Larson and Marri Ashley at their San Francisco half marathon.
The late Elizabeth Ann Hollen
MILWAUKIE — A teacher from Christ the King School trained to walk a half marathon in honor of her mother, who died nine years ago from cancer.
Marri Ashley, a health teacher, convinced friends Tracy Larson and Tera Torres to walk with her April 27 in Washington D.C. and try to raise $50,000 for cancer research. They call themselves "Team Liz" because of Ashley's mother, Elizabeth Ann Hollen, who succumbed to T-cell lymphoma before she turned 60.
"She was a wonderful mother, teacher and human being," Ashley says. "Anyone she met she left them in a better place."
Ashley explains that the nation's capital was a good place to honor her mother, who was a history teacher in the Canby School District who would take students to Washington in the summer. "She was a passionate teacher who moved and inspired her students," Ashley says.
The walking team has been invited to meet with Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer.
The three women intend to raise money by walking each year into the future, dedicating their effort to particular patients and the diseases that killed them.
The teammates have held clothing drives, dinner fundraisers and an auction to raise funds. Last week in Canby, Baker Prairie Middle School in Canby held a jog-a-thon for the cause.
The team walked in October in San Francisco's half marathon to earn money for cancer research. "I came away from that experience understanding that our strength lies in our numbers and our mission lives in the hearts of those who are battling bravely and those who have lost someone they love to cancer," Ashley says.
Students from Christ the King know what their teacher is doing and are curious and proud. The eighth grade class gave her an ovation. "I just want to pay it forward," Ashley explains.
On the team's website supporters gave funds and words of encouragement.
"The three of you are such an inspiration," one writer said. "Go to DC and kick some cancer booty!"