By Tina MilesMay 31, 2012
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (May 31, 2012) -- Seven members of the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade came together as a team to wage war against a different kind of enemy - cancer.
To honor survivors and remember those who have lost their lives to cancer, as well as to raise funds and awareness to help save lives, the 780th MI Brigade team -- the Midnight Warriors -- participated in the American Cancer Society 2012 Relay for Life of West County Maryland on May 18 at Old Mill Middle School North in Millersville.
More than 1,000 people participated, including 76 teams. The event raised more than $92,500 for the fight against cancer.
The motivations for walking in the Relay for Life varied.
For Spc. Curtis CooperHolmes of the 781st MI Battalion, it was personal.
"Having witnessed a personal loss of family by this disease, I understand the importance to be proactive by getting involved," CooperHolmes said. "This event was a great opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Not only that, it's a great way to build team unity."
CooperHolmes participated in past walks, but the importance of this year's event was most evident after a recent conversation he had with his mother when he realized that cancer had made its mark on his family for a long time.
Four of CooperHolmes' family members have lost their lives to cancer and three others are going through the battle.
"The most recent loss was last year while I was stationed in Korea," CooperHolmes said. "It was my uncle, the only one other than me who served in the Army. I looked up to him and felt he was one I had most similarities to."
Then CooperHolmes found out his mother had a cancerous lump removed in 1998, making her a 14-year survivor.
"Thankfully, it was caught in time," he said.
CooperHolmes has some concerns regarding his own health, especially since cancer runs in both sides of his family.
"It just makes me more aware," he said.
And that is exactly what the Relay for Life is about - awareness.
Sgt. 1st Class Jason Fischer, operations, 780th MI Brigade, also had a personal reason for walking as well.
"My wife, Cathy, is a cancer survivor," he said. "The whole process is a hard thing to go through ... both the challenges and emotions."
Maria Catherine "Cathy" Fischer was diagnosed with Phase II breast cancer in 2005. The diagnosis was followed by multiple surgeries, an aggressive chemo regimen and radiation therapy.
She is now "clean," a survivor. A very private person, Cathy Fischer doesn't talk much about her cancer, and although she wasn't officially a member of the Midnight Force, she walked beside her husband and their two children at the Relay for Life.
"The Relay for Life was an uplifting experience," Fischer said. "As the proud husband of a survivor, it is always truly heartening to see the level of local community support for the ongoing fight against cancer."
Other members of the Midnight Force team were Staff Sgt. Tiffiney Marie Blakeslee, 781st MI Battalion; Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Milledge, 780th MI Brigade; Sgt. 1st Class Tammy Cross, 781st MI Battalion; Sgt. 1st Class Wendoly Portillio, 780th MI Battalion and 1st Sgt. Tiyohn Thomas, 780th MI Brigade.
Thomas walked to support his brothers-in-arms.
"It was an honor to go and walk with those Soldiers who are currently dealing with family members battling cancer," he said. "It was also great to see the community come together to support such a noble cause."