Dairy worker runs half marathon, raises $5k for leukemia research

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 March 2014 at 12:00 am

Provided photo – Kathy Jurs is pictured with characters at Disney World after running a half marathon in January. She raised $5,123 which was the most of anyone from western and central New York.

ALBION – When Kathy Jurs battled Non-Hodgins lymphoma in 2010, she could count on a card in the mail or a treat from Susan Bennett.

Jurs was 29 when she was diagnosed with a cancer of the lymphoid tissue. She lost nearly all of her hair while enduring chemotherapy and radiation. Bennett was always a source of encouragement.

“She would send me notes and gifts,” Jurs said.

Jurs, 32, made a full recovery and returned to work at Poverty Hill Farms in Albion. She has worked there since she was 15. She is the herdsman and calf manager. She arrives at work at 4:45 in the morning and stays until about 4 or 4:30.

Amy Neal is her best friend. Amy is married to Jamie Neal, one of the farm co-owners. She is also Bennett’s daughter.

In June, Bennett was diagnosed with the same cancer as Jurs. Kathy decided she would raise money for research for the disease by running a half marathon at Disney in January.

“I wanted to get into shape, stay healthy and do it for Susan,” Jurs said.

She trained five days a week, including long runs on Saturdays. She joined a group at Mendon Ponds for the Saturday treks. The runners were all raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

In four months, Jurs ran over 400 miles getting ready for the half marathon. The sponsors poured in, with Jurs collecting $5,123, the most of any participant from western and central NY.

Photo by Tom Rivers – Jurs works as the herdsman and calf manager at Poverty Hill Farm in Albion, which is owned by the Neal family.

“I never dreamed we could raise that much money,” Jurs said.

Bennett was popular in the community. She was active at the Barre Presbyterian Church and as bookkeeper at Al Bennett and Sons, a feed and farm supply store in Barre. Her husband Richard was a long-time county legislator.

“Everybody knew Susan,” Jurs said. “She talked to everybody.”

Jurs set out to finish the 13.1-mile run in under 3 hours. She met that goal on Jan. 11. Her euphoria in finishing was crushed after the race when she learned that Bennett had died that morning at age 67.

Jurs intends to keep running, and raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She plans to run the Flower City Half Marathon in Rochester on April 27.

Richard Bennett praised Jurs for her good heart and determination. When his wife was battling cancer, Jurs often sent her notes and gifts.

“Kathy was her constant booster,” Mr. Bennett said. “She encouraged Susan a lot. It gives you faith in the young people today. They are a very giving group.”