Clifford 5k raises awareness for ovarian cancer

Bret Bevens, PDT Sports Writer

September 8, 2012


PDT Staff Writer

Walkers lined up in the cold rain on Saturday to participate in the 2nd Annual Courtney Clifford Outstanding Achievement 5K Walk at Portsmouth High School Athletic Complex. The walk raises awareness of ovarian cancer and money for the Courtney Clifford Scholarship Fund.

Clifford graduated from PHS in 2001 and was class valedictorian. She earned All-State honors in tennis, basketball and softball. She was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer in May 1997, at age 14, and then with stage 3-C ovarian cancer in 2005, and passed away in 2011 at the age of 28.

“The purpose of this walk is to carry on Courtney’s memory, and to raise awareness of ovarian cancer because early detection saves lives,” said Courtney’s mother, Mary Clifford.

According to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, one in 72 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. About 20,000 American women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and another 15,000 will die. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among American women. In cases where the cancer has been detected before it spreads beyond the ovaries, 90 percent of women will survive more than five years.

Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include bloating, pelvic and abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency). Also sometimes fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities.

“Courtney always said, ‘listen to your body’,” said Courtney’s father, Curt Clifford.

The Clifford Walk not only raises awareness about ovarian cancer, but also raises money for the Courtney Clifford Scholarship; established at the Scioto Foundation and given each year to students at Portsmouth High School who excel in sports and studies.

“Courtney’s idea was to have this scholarship based on deed, and not on need. She wanted somebody that was a student athlete, that had a 3.0 GPA, and that played more than one sport. She was a three-sport athlete herself. That’s what she wanted,” said Curt Clifford.

This year’s recipients were Ali Shultz, who will study journalism at Ohio University, and J.W. Horsley, who will study biomedical sciences at Shawnee State University. Both Horsley and Shultz participated in the walk on Saturday.

“I thought it was a beautiful way to remember Courtney, and I’m just so appreciative and thankful to have this opportunity and to have the scholarship in the name of Courtney because she was so wonderful,” Shultz said.

For more information about the Courtney Clifford Scholarship, visit online at www.courtneyclifford.org.

Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or rottney@heartlandpublications.com.