In conjunction with September being ovarian cancer awareness month, the 7th Annual Courtney Clifford Scholarship 5K Walk will be Saturday, Aug. 26. The Walk is a major fundraiser held to honor Clifford, raise ovarian cancer awareness, and fund the Courtney Clifford Outstanding Achievement Scholarship Fund.
Clifford was a thyroid cancer survivor and a five year survivor of ovarian cancer before losing her life. She excelled both academically and athletically before dying from ovarian cancer on Feb. 11, 2011, at the age of 28. The scholarships were created in her name to reward individuals who parallel Clifford’s achievements and character and to carry on Clifford’s legacy.
The first time the family organized the event was in September 2011, just months before Clifford died. Since that time, the walk has been a way to remember all the young woman stood for.
Clifford achieved many accomplishments in life. She was a valedictorian of the Class of 2001 at Portsmouth High School. While at PHS, she was an All-State athlete in tennis, basketball, and softball; senior class president and football homecoming queen. Following high school, Clifford went on to study at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she graduated summa cum laude in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and public relations. She was also a member of the women’s tennis team. She was president of the Public Relations Student Society of America and event chairperson of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life on the campus of UNCC.
After Clifford graduated from college, she went on to start her life and was employed by American Tennis Professionals (ATP) in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. While in Florida, she started having serious abdominal pain. Finally, she sought medical attention.
Unfortunately, the news came back that it appeared Clifford had ovarian cancer. Clifford first had thyroid cancer at 14 and had been cared for by Ohio State University’s Cancer Center. She and her family decided it would be best for her to return home and start fighting ovarian cancer. In November 2005, she had a confirmed diagnosis and started treatment.
During her fight with ovarian cancer, Clifford was an advocate for others, encouraging them to keep fighting. She attended events including the Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Summits in Texas and at Ohio State University and attended the National Ovarian Cancer Alliance Conference in Washington D.C. She also spoke at schools and other functions trying to help spread awareness, preach early detection, and save as many people as possible. Clifford was diagnosed at a very late stage, something she hoped to teach others about. With ovarian cancer, there are few to no symptoms until the cancer spreads beyond the ovaries. She wanted to encourage others to know their body and advocate for it.
Clifford died at the age of 28, but she will continue to touch lives through her scholarship fund and ovarian cancer awareness. The Courtney Clifford 5k Run/Walk is held each year in or near September, which is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
“Courtney’s journey in the cancer world showed her intense fight and drive to never give up hope,” mother Mary Clifford commented. “She has touched many lives with her courage and strength. She will continue to touch lives through this scholarship fund and Ovarian Cancer awareness.”
The Courtney Clifford Scholarship 5K Walk will begin at 9:30 am at the Portsmouth High School Coliseum. Registration will be held from 8:30 to 9:30am. Awards and door prizes will follow the walk at 10:30am.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.