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80 Years Ago

Archives 2001 08-01-2001




Woman Plans Shoreline Walk For Organ Donor Awareness
Unemployment Rate Rises In Overton County
County Law Enforcement Receives Grant


Woman Plans Shoreline Walk For Organ Donor Awareness

Kathy Myers walks through Livingston in preparation for walking the distance around Dale Hollow Lake. She plans to make the trek to increase organ donor awareness.


By Becky Meredith, OCN staff

Kathy Myers, 44, an aspiring writer from Livingston, is preparing for a time of solitude, a 620-mile hike around the shoreline of Dale Hollow Lake. Myers can be seen daily on her 10-mile walk up and down Main Street in Livingston.

Mother of four, grandmother of one, with another grandchild on the way, Myers hopes her hike around the shoreline will attract attention and raise awareness for organ donations.

Her son, Cory Gillespie, is on dialysis and has been waiting two years for a kidney transplant.

"There are approximately 67,000 people in the state of Tennessee waiting for organ transplants, and 10 of those people die every day waiting, Myers said.

"I'm trying to raise money for a children's hospital in Atlanta, GA, called Children's Health-care of Atlanta. My son was in that hospital several times between the ages of 3 and 4 and he had a couple of operations there. That hospital is very special. The people there treat the entire family, they just made us feel like family. I want to do this to try to give something back."

Myers will begin her journey Wednesday, Aug. 15 and plans to finish at Halloween, about a 75-day walk.

"I've always loved the lake, ever since I moved here 11 years ago. I spend a lot of time out there and I've hiked a lot out there. While I was out there hiking one day, I thought, 'Well, I love to hike. Why not try to get some good out of it?'"

The hike means a lot to Myers, as she will walk to support her son's transplant. This will be Gillespie's second kidney transplant, his first taking place two weeks before his 9th birthday in 1989.

In 1999, Myers found her son was in need of another transplant.

"A lot of people think that once you have a transplant, that's all you have to have, but that's not true. There are people out there who have had organs for 20 years or more, but they are so very lucky. Usually 10-12 years is about it."

After she gets back from her hike, Myers plans to be tested to find if she is a possible donor for her son.

"Up until now, he has refused to let me be tested. But it's been two years and he's having some problems with his blood pressure on the machine. We're kind of in a hurry.

"He's 21, and he spends 3 days a week, 3 hours and 45 minutes each day hooked to a machine."

Myers stressed how important organ and blood donating are. After all, she has contributed more than her share of blood in the past.

"I always try to get people to donate organs as well as to give blood. I gave blood every 6-8 weeks for two years, but then I developed a problem with my blood pressure and my blood sugar so I can't donate anymore.

"I think it's very important if you are healthy to at least donate blood. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. I mean, I am willing to walk alone 620 miles. If I can do that, people can at least listen and think about it."

Myers also thinks it is important that those who have a deceased loved one donate the organs.

"I know one of the hardest things in the world would have to be making a decision like that when you've just lost someone. I'm not even sure how I would handle it. I would hope I would realize by donating an organ of a loved one I had just lost that a part of that person would live on and reach the lives of someone else."

Myers is really looking forward to her journey and is confident it will prove life-changing.

"This will be like a discovery journey. I definitely won't be the same person when I come out on the other side. You can't be by yourself for that length of time and not be a better person for it."

Raised in the national forest in Florida, she believes the hike will be a test of her survival skills, though snakes are the least of her worries.

"My biggest worry as far as wildlife around the lake will be wild hogs. I know how to watch for signs and if I see one, I'll head to the water. They can swim, but they don't like to very much."

Her sleeping quarters will consist of a tent and sleeping bag.

"I'll probably try camping on islands off shore as much as possible. I'll just kind of feel a little safer, but I'm not afraid."

Considering the lack of food sources in the woods, Myers will have to carry her food with her.

"I will eat freeze dried or pre-packaged food like dried fruits, nuts, trail mixes, and other high-protein foods. I'll be using water-purification tablets and using lake water because there's no way I can carry that much water.

Hauling her backpack will prove trying also. She now carries 18 lbs. for 5 miles each night, but will have to increase to 25 lbs.

"I hope to be able to pick up new supplies at each marina that I stop at. I'll probably spend the night at each marina when I get there just to give me a break away from the lake so I can be around people for a little while."

Myers looks at this time of isolation as a perfect opportunity to concentrate on her writing.

"I intend to keep a journal of my walk, what I do, what I see, the people I meet, as well as I hope to get some really great nature shots (photographs).

"I figure each afternoon, once I stop and set up camp, I'll be writing until dark. I can't write along the way. It would be too much trouble trying to get everything out of my pack so I'll try to remember everything and write it down in the evening."

Tennessee's moody weather may attribute some complications in the journey.

"I just hope the weather holds. I am walking 10 miles a day now and if I can maintain 10 miles a day, then I'll beat the 75 days. But if it turns really cold, I'll have to come out.

"The heat doesn't bother me. If I get too hot, I'll jump in the lake, of course I have to watch out for the 'gators in case there's any more in there."

Although she plans to completely cover the shoreline of the lake, she is not going to beat herself up if she does not make her goal.

"I do the best I can and hopefully accomplish 500 miles. If I can't, I'll know I did my best. But you have to take into account bad weather and days when I'm just tired and don't feel like walking. I'm not going to push myself to the point of exhaustion."

Contact with the "outside world" will be possible as she hopes to have a marine-band radio. The radio will allow her to contact boats on the lake, as well as receive weather reports.

"They (family) will know how to find me if my son gets called for a kidney. I've been there for every operation and he's had 22. I won't miss this one, it's a biggie."

Myers' son and son-in-law are setting up a webpage to keep track of her whereabouts and happenings so her friends and other interested persons can tune in on her progress.

"Any time I get to a place where I can use a phone, I'll call home, and every time I call home they will update it (webpage).

"I would love to see this go national, I really would. Someone is calling Channel 5 today and we'll see what they do."

If she makes an impact on someone and that person donates to the cause, Myers will have been successful in her journey. She would like to see as many donations as possible be made to the Children's Health-care of Atlanta.

"The hospital in Atlanta is a much smaller hospital and a lot of their money comes from fundraisers and donations. They get federal grants also, but because it's smaller, they don't get near the money that the bigger hospitals do.

"Donations will be made directly to the hospital. I don't want anything to do with any money. That's not why I'm doing this.

"As a matter of fact, I'm going to have a very hard time just coming up with my equipment, but I intend to go regardless. I had thought about trying to get sponsors to help me with the equipment and supplies I need, but I have this problem about asking people for things. It's just not in me. I would rather them make the offer if they want to help.

Those who would like to obtain more information about organ donation and financial contribution may call Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at (404) 929-8300 or visit the website at www.choa.org.




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Unemployment Rate Rises In Overton County

Tennessee's June unemployment rate of 4.3 percent was up two-tenths of a percentage point over the month.

County unemployment rates showed that 94 county rates were up, no county rates were down, and one remained unchanged over the month.

Overton County's unemployment rate was up 1.1 percent, from 4.8 percent to 5.9 percent. The county had 580 unemployed of a workforce of 9,760.

Pickett County's unemployment rate was up 2.1 percent, from 9.1 to 11.2 percent. Pickett had 260 unemployed of a workforce of 2,320.

Clay County's unemployment rate went up 2.0 percent, from 6.5 to 8.5. Clay had 220 unemployed of a workforce of 2,580.

Jackson County went from 4.9 percent unemployment to 6.2, up 1.3 percent. Jackson had 280 unemployed of a workforce of 4,510.

Fentress County's unemployment rate also went up 1.3 percent, from 9.5 to 10.8. Fentress had 670 unemployed of a workforce of 6,220.

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County Law Enforcement Receives Grant

A $1 million Justice Department grant awarded to the Tennessee Office for Criminal Justice Programs will help Overton County link key information systems that include crime and offender data to develop more comprehensive, better coordinated criminal justice information systems, according to U.S. Representative Bart Gordon.

This connection will lead to better sentencing decisions, enhanced public safety, and other benefits derived from the beefed up information systems, according to Rep. Gordon.

"For too long, the different branches of the criminal justice system at the federal, state, and local levels have not known what the others were doing," Gordon said.

"By helping law enforcement, courts, probation and parole agencies, and other components of the criminal justice system to more effectively share information, we are enhancing public safety.

The Justice Department grant is one of 26 totaling $16 million being made under a program authorized by the Crime Identification Technology Act of 1998, more commonly referred to as CITA.

Pat Dishman, director of the Tennessee Office for Criminal Justice Programs, said, "This grant allows us to move forward, hooking all of the criminal justice systems together with technology. We will now be able to communicate using computers instead of paper, without duplicating any work."

Dishman's office will use the funds to automate the Criminal Case Judgment Document, which will improve the current manual process in all 95 counties, 31 district attorney's offices and court clerk offices throughout the state.

The judgment document is a crucial form in the business flow of the state's criminal justice system. It contains case disposition information from the criminal/circuit judge, listing all relevant information concerning the outcome of the case.

Gordon said, "Rapid advances in technology have allowed police, prosecutors, courts, and corrections to build impressive information systems. The key is to allow these systems to share information.

"Judges who have reliable up-to-date arrest records will be able to make better sentencing decisions. In turn, police who have complete information about outstanding warrants and criminal histories will be in a better position to detain dangerous criminals."


Overton County News
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P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
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