By Frank Lewis
Football celebrities were among the hundreds who participated in the Courtney Clifford 5K Walk/Run Saturday morning at the Portsmouth Coliseum. Former Ohio State University linebacker Bobby Carpenter and current Michigan State fullback Trevon Pendleton were among those covering the 5K distance which raises money for scholarships in Clifford’s name.
“My wife is from Portsmouth and coached Courtney and she knows the family very well and is friends with them as well,” Carpenter said. “It’s a great cause so we came out here to support them.”
It was a family connection for Pendleton as well.
“My brother married Caitlin Clifford, Courtney’s sister and obviously through that became very close to the family,” Pendleton said. “My grandma was also affected by ovarian cancer and ended up passing away just a few days before Courtney did. It’s just a great cause and something to get behind in the community.”
Courtney Clifford, 28, died on February 11, 2011. She battled ovarian cancer for 5 years and was a thyroid cancer survivor, having been diagnosed at the age of 14.
“This is our Fifth Annual Walk and this is the second year for the run,” Courtney’s mother, Mary Clifford, said. “We’ve had good participation and hope to grow it every year.”
Clifford said the funds from the walk benefit four scholarships each year.
“It’s our major fundraiser to benefit our Courtney Clifford Outstanding Achievement Scholarship,” Clifford said. “We award scholarships to Notre Dame, Portsmouth, Minford and this year we added Valley and they receive $1,000 each. It is in a perpetual fund, so the fund will always grow and there will always be a Courtney Clifford Scholarship.”
People lined up for an hour before the walk/run began to register and to pick up a T-shirt recognizing the event.
“We are so fortunate that our community has really turned out,” Clifford said. “We have very loyal sponsors that sponsor us every year – very generous – and the last couple of years we have had so much sponsor participation that we were able to add door prizes. That’s an extra touch that people enjoy. Everybody likes to win prizes and it’s all because of the generosity of our community and our sponsors.”
Courtney Clifford’s father, Curt Clifford credited his brother, Mark Clifford, with coming up with 62 door prizes for the event.
Another annual participant is Rick Estep who utilizes the P.A. system to keep everyone informed.
“I’ve been involved in all five years,” Estep said. “Courtney was very close to our family. Curt and Mary are two of our very closest friends. Caitlin is my god-daughter. This is just an awesome event. It just seems to keep growing every year and Courtney just keeps blessing. She was just such an inspiration to all of us in the entire community.”
Clifford attended Notre Dame Elementary School and 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. Courtney was inducted into the PHS Athletic Hall of Fame, with her brother, Tyler, in 2006. She graduated summa cum laude in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications/Public Relations from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where she was also a member of the women’s tennis team.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.
Led by Curt Clifford, the Courtney Clifford 5K Walk/Run stepped off Saturday morning at the Portsmouth Coliseum. The event benefits four annual scholarships.