When Deb Davis ran the Door County Half Marathon as part of a Run for a Cause team supporting the family of Chrystal Chartier-Wittenmyer, she didn’t run it alone.
On the back of her shirt were 13 ribbons: one for each of the 13.1 miles, and each representing a different person’s fight against a different cancer. Sarah, Dad, Butch, Chrystal, Kathy, and several more. Each a color of their own. Each a mile of their own.
“Every mile, I thought of a different person and focused on that person for that mile,” Davis said. “Running is not easy for me, but it was my fourth half marathon, and it was the best I’ve ever done. People would run with me and ask about the ribbons on my back, and I would get to talk about that person.”
Davis had helped to organize the team running for Chrystal Chartier-Wittenmyer, who joined the 36 team members in her wheelchair. Chartier-Wittenmyer would succumb to the breast cancer she was battling just five months later, but not before she had secured a new home for her husband and two children through Habitat for Humanity. Davis and her Run for a Cause team raised $21,107 to help them make the move.
But she does much more than run for people. Carrie Baldwin-Smith calls her an invaluable contributor as a board member of the Sue Baldwin Fund, which raises money for people fighting cancer in Door County.
“What she brings in conversation and thoughts brings something very different to the table,” Baldwin-Smith said. “She doesn’t just always agree with you.”
But she gives much more than opinions. She bakes birthday cakes for people, hands out meals for needy families on Christmas Eve at the Sister Bay Fire Station, and volunteers for community efforts like the COVID-19 vaccination programs. And with her husband, Scott, she auctions 24-person pizza dinners they host at their home to benefit area nonprofits. Deb and Scott make the dough, craft the sauce, bake the pizzas and provide the wine.
“It’s something that is so fulfilling,” she said.
“Deb and Scott are just phenomenal people,” Baldwin-Smith said. “I don’t know if we could do what we do at the Sue Baldwin Fund without her. I generally don’t like people, but I love Deb.”
As spring approached, Davis was gearing up for another year of pizza parties, and another run for a cause. This one will support the Sue Baldwin Fund’s mental-health initiative, which helps people deal with the residual trauma that remains in the months and years after cancer treatment.