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Six women from across the country are using their athletic abilities to raise money for
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in honor of their favorite country music artist, Keith Urban.
The women’s running group called “Team Urban” was formed early last year through a series of message board posts on the Keith Urban fan club Web site. It started when Cheryl Walker of Culpeper, Virginia, first logged onto the site in search of support.
“I had suffered a recent hamstring injury and was wondering if anyone else exercised to Keith’s music,” Walker said of her first post.
After a surprising chain of responses, Walker and five other women decided to form a running team to raise money for St. Jude, one of Urban’s favorite charities.
“We started with two races in July 2005 and raised about a $1,000 in one month,” Walker said.
And with the help of friends, family and complete strangers, the team raises more money with every race. On April 29, 2006, Team Urban participated in the seventh annual Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee, raising more than $6,000 – the most they have ever raised for one event.
“We usually walk some during races, but we found ourselves having so much energy during this race that we ran more than walked,” Walker said.
Walker had the chance to travel to Memphis last year to tour St. Jude. “The one word that I choose to describe the hospital is ‘hope.’ The hospital is not a depressing place at all, but rather a place of hope,” Walker said.
Since a friend of the family, Casey, lost her battle to cancer at the age of 3, Walker is determined to continue raising money for St. Jude. “Every time I run in a race, it is to honor Casey.”
In addition to Casey, Team Urban members find the motivation to keep going from Urban himself. To them, Urban is more than just a talented singer, he is an inspiration.
“What struck me about Keith is that I saw humility and sincerity in his character and it showed through his music,” Walker said. When asked what she would say to Urban should she have the opportunity to meet him, she replied, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have forged some incredible relationships though Keith's message boards and concerts and for that I will be forever grateful.”