Woman Plans Shoreline Walk For Organ Donor Awareness
Unemployment Rate Rises In Overton County
County Law Enforcement Receives Grant
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,Ó 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
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 1999, Myers found her son was in need of another
"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
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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
"I would love to see this go national, I really
would. Someone is calling Channel 5 today and we'll see what they
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
"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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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
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
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
Fentress County's unemployment rate also went up 1.3
percent, from 9.5 to 10.8. Fentress had 670 unemployed of a workforce
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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
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
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
"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
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570