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Nursing student vies to walk 60 miles, raise $10,000

Brandy Raymond, center, solicited the help of her daughter Courtney, 4, (right) and 8-year-old Isabel Madding, 8, on Friday, June 23 to hand out breast cancer information flyers to customers at Emerald City Smoothie in Silverdale. Isabel’s mother, Marleen Madding, owner of the smoothie shop, donated $1 for every regular size drink sold that day to Raymond’s fund-raiser benefitting the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. - Photo by Valentina Petrova
Brandy Raymond, center, solicited the help of her daughter Courtney, 4, (right) and 8-year-old Isabel Madding, 8, on Friday, June 23 to hand out breast cancer information flyers to customers at Emerald City Smoothie in Silverdale. Isabel’s mother, Marleen Madding, owner of the smoothie shop, donated $1 for every regular size drink sold that day to Raymond’s fund-raiser benefitting the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
— image credit: Photo by Valentina Petrova

When she decided to change her career four years ago, Brandy Raymond turned to nursing because she wanted to make a difference.

Today, she is still several semesters away from finishing nursing school, but well on her way to making a difference in the fight against breast cancer.

Raymond, a Bremerton resident, is raising funds in memory of an Olympic College professor who died last August, after a bout with the disease. Jo Kohn taught chemistry and microbiology at OC since the late 1980s.

Raymond needs a minimum of $2,200 to walk in the 60-mile Breast Cancer 3-Day event, which benefits the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. However, Raymond is aiming for a $10,000 contribution.

Electrician

turned nurse

Raymond had been interested in the medical field since she was a little girl, but never quite gathered the willpower to commit to 12 extra years of schooling.

However, when her daughter Courtney was born with an infection that kept the baby in the hospital, there was one particular nurse who made an impression on the new mother.

“She was very comforting on a personal level,” Raymond said. “She also was concerned with me as a parent.

“I realized that nursing is the discipline where one person can make a difference.”

Ten months after Courtney’s birth, Raymond, who was an electrician, enrolled at OC to begin taking nursing prerequisite classes during winter quarter 2003.

An inspirational teacher

Raymond met Kohn in the fall of 2003 when she took chemistry class with the long-time professor.

Kohn was very supportive of Raymond going back to school as a young mother.

“Jo was a fabulous teacher,” Raymond said. “She had a passion ... it made the class exciting.”

Kohn inspired students to do their best, she added.

Raymond enrolled for a second chemistry course with the professor she respected so much. But at the end of that class, Kohn was diagnosed with breast cancer and took a year off from teaching.

When she returned to the classroom, Raymond enrolled in Kohn’s microbiology class. It ended in March 2005 and turned out to be the last class Kohn taught at OC. A few months later, the breast cancer prevailed.

Making a difference

Not long afterward, Raymond heard an ad on the radio about the Breast Cancer 3-Day event in Seattle.

“I was still devastated from Jo passing,” Raymond said. “And wanted to do something to honor who she was.”

Breast cancer has also affected Raymond’s family. Her husband Michael Raymond’s mother and several of her sisters, as well as their children, carry the breast cancer gene and several have fought the disease already.

Brandy Raymond contacted Kohn’s husband and asked him if it would be OK to participate in the 3-Day walk in her name. Kohn’s husband approved of Raymond’s efforts and even made a contribution.

Courtney, who is now 4, also wanted to help and is collecting her money in a piggy bank to donate to her mother’s fundraising campaign.

However, Raymond quickly realized she could not raise enough money from family and friends’ personal donations alone.

Fundraising spree

One of Raymond’s first fund-raisers was a garage sale that raised just over $350 in two days.

Several staff members from Courtney’s daycare at OC helped by donating items last minute.

Leanne Pearson, a program specialist at the Child Development and Family Center at OC drives by Raymond’s house on her way to work. A few weeks ago, Pearson saw the huge sign for the garage sale.

When Raymond was at the daycare later that day, Pearson asked how the sale was going.

“She said people are buying stuff they probably don’t need just to support the cause,” Pearson said.

Even though the family center staff did not know Kohn, many of their students’ parents had been in her classes. So, Pearson and her colleagues scrambled to donate items last minute to keep Raymond’s garage sale supplied.

“We’re all pretty proud of Brandy for what she’s doing,” Pearson added.

Last week Raymond had $1,707.50 in her 3-Day in her donation fund, but hoped to reach the $2,000 mark by the end of the day Friday, June 23.

Emerald City Smoothie in Silverdale, donated $1 from each regular-size drink sold that day.

Marleen Madding, the smoothie shop owner, had completed a similar breast cancer walk in Seattle last spring in support of a friend. Madding, who often hosts youth fundraisers in the community and has contributed to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, said she was pleased to help in Raymond’s cause.

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