In life, Amanda Wall and Corey Haddon shared many similarities. Yet, tragically, it is in death that the two young women have become inextricably linked.
The Second Annual Amanda Wall-Corey Haddon Memorial Walk will be held Saturday, Oct. 13 at 9 a.m. at Apex United Methodist Church.
The event benefits the Melanoma Research Foundation, an organization that strives to cure the insidious disease that claimed the lives of both young women while they were still in their 20s.
A raffle and silent auction will also be held to raise funds. Businesses are currently being asked to donate autographed items, art work, iPods, iPads, power tools or anything else suitable for an auction.
Although they never met, Wall and Haddon enjoyed similar lives. They were intelligent, beautiful women who had loving families, many friends and seemingly unlimited potential. Both were also recent East Carolina University graduates when they received their horrible diagnosis.
The two women courageously and vigorously fought their cancer to the end. Haddon was 26 when she died in 2008 while Wall passed away at 28 in 2010.
Following a chance meeting at a grief counseling session in Raleigh, the women’s parents discussed holding an event in their honor.
Eventually, Don and Rebecca Wall of Holly Springs suggested holding a walk and Diane and Chap Haddon of Cary quickly agreed.
“The girls would have wanted to do something and this is a way we can help others fight this particular disease,” said Chap Haddon.
Not only does the walk raise awareness about the disease but it also helps keep the memory of the two women alive.
“I would never wish this on my worst enemy,” said Diane Haddon. “If we were talking about Corey a year or even two years ago I’d be sitting here bawling. It is hard but talking about her helps us and it helps us remember her.
“Corey would be right out there walking with us. I didn’t know Amanda, I never met her, but I think she would be with us as well.”
Although they never spoke, Diane Haddon vividly remembers seeing Amanda and Donna Wall sitting in the waiting room at the Duke Cancer Clinic.
“It was our first time there and we couldn’t believe it,” said Diane Haddon. “The waiting room was filled with people from little kids to people in their 80s. Amanda and her mother came in and sat down across from us. I said to Corey, ‘Look at those two. They are beautiful.
“Amanda had lost her hair and had a scarf wrapped around her head. The scarf made it look as though she had long hair. Even without her hair she was absolutely gorgeous.”
She didn’t see the Walls again until nearly two years later. Sitting in a support group meeting, Diane Haddon immediately recognized Donna Wall as she entered the room.
“At first, I was so excited to see her,” said Diane Haddon. “But then as I sat there during the meeting I kept thinking, ‘If they are here, that means their daughter died.’ I literally ran after them when the meeting ended and we talked for about 45 minutes. That is where our connection started.”
The first walk, held last year in Wake Forest, far exceeded expectations. Organizers hoped to attract 100 participants and raise $10,000. The event ended up with 200 walkers and raised more than $28,000.
This year, however, no numeric goals are being set. Instead, the families just want to make sure that people recognize the early signs of melanoma and what measures to take to prevent it.
“We just want to get the word out to as many people as we can and have them join us,” said Chap Haddon. “If you see something on your skin, go and get it taken care of. This is a disease you are going to hear more and more about. We are all going to know more people with skin cancer.”
“Tanning salons are a big part of it,” said Diane Haddon. “It increases the risk factor. Corey told me she went once but she was very fair-skinned and burned. She knew enough to protect herself. I know both girls really liked the beach, but who doesn’t?
“The younger you are the more insidious the disease. It is very important for young people to recognize it and have it taken care of quickly. It is even more important to take the proper preventive steps and not expose yourself to the possibility.”
Buffalo Wings and Rings in Morrisville is donating 10 percent of its sales on Sept. 26 to this cause.
For more information on the walk visit www.amanda-corey.com