Sonya's Faithful Steppers
A daughter in her mother's footsteps
by Yma Johnson
"Lung cancer seems to carry a stigma, because people think everyone who has lung cancer is a smoker," says former Ann Arborite Janice Nash. In fact, Nash points out, "over fifty percent of people with lung cancer are nonsmokers"-including her niece, Sonya Allen, who died of the disease two years ago.
Before her death, Allen organized "Sonya's Faithful Steppers" to raise money for the Lungevity Foundation. Founded in 2000 by U-M alumna Melissa Lumberg-Zagon, Lungevity is the only group in the nation dedicated exclusively to promoting lung cancer research and providing support for families facing the disease. Before her death, Allen joined its annual fund-raising walkathon. "Sonya first participated in the midst of pain and suffering," says Nash-and now Allen's daughter, Christiana, has committed to honoring her mother's dream. The Huron High sophomore has rallied relatives from as far as Texas and Arkansas to support her in Lungevity's April 11 walk-a-thon-a 5k route starting from Ingalls Mall.
Sonya's Faithful Steppers hope to raise $10,000. "The sad part is, I see people every day holding cigarettes in their hand, and they're still alive," says Christiana. "But my mom was a nonsmoker, and she had to be the unlucky one."
[Originally published in April, 2009.]