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Kenny Hill raised more than $2,500 for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life walk as part of the Regions Interstate Billing team. Regions Interstate Billing's Joy Brown picked up the money from Hill in Mooresville and helped him pick out his prize for his efforts.
Daily photo by Emily Saunders
Kenny Hill raised more than $2,500 for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life walk as part of the Regions Interstate Billing team. Regions Interstate Billing's Joy Brown picked up the money from Hill in Mooresville and helped him pick out his prize for his efforts.

Overcoming obstacles
Disability doesn't stop man from
raising $2,500 for Relay for Life

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

Cerebral palsy may keep Kenny Hill from driving a car, but it can't keep him from pounding the pavement for the American Cancer Society.

The 42-year-old disabled man raised more than $2,500 for this year's Relay for Life event, which begins Friday night at Founders Park, accounting for more than 25 percent of his team's total donation.

The amount puts him in the upper echelon of individual efforts, said Beth Tutwiler, ACS spokeswoman, noting that $2,000 is considered a significant achievement for many teams.

Hill said he would be disappointed if he couldn't get at least $2,000 every year, noting he raised more than $2,500 in each of his first two years.

"A lady asked me, 'Don't you feel ashamed asking for money?' " Hill said. "I said, 'It's not like I'm doing it for myself. ... I'm doing it for a good cause.' "

The cause is important to Hill because his sister died of cancer four years ago, and the disease also took the life of his grandfather, an uncle and some friends. As he rides the county roads near his Greenbrier home, he points out four of his neighbors who succumbed to cancer.

A distance walker

But even before his sister died, Hill was a determined Relay for Life participant because it allowed him to showcase his stamina as a distance walker during the 12-hour event, as well as give him another reason to walk his community and visit friends.

He said he only solicits donations from friends and, as of Thursday morning, that included 65 people who gave to the cause.

It's not just some people who take pity on him and give him a big check, said Joy Brown, a lifelong friend and co-member on the Region's Interstate Billing Relay for Life team.

"He works so hard. He tries so hard," she said. "The effort he puts forth is just more that most people would do."

Hill doesn't just take the fundraising seriously. He is just as devoted to walking his laps during the event.

Participants from 49 teams will circle a course at Founders Park and on Church Street Northeast. The goal is for a member from each team to be on the course at all times from 7 p.m. Friday until 7 a.m. Saturday.

Hill said he usually stays till about 3 a.m. and would stay longer if he didn't have to get up early Saturday to volunteer for the SoulStock music festival in Athens.

Because his disability prevents him from driving a car — he's subject to seizures — most of the time he must walk to get where he wants. He said he's walked as far as 35 miles to Hillwood Baptist Church in South Huntsville to hear his favorite gospel singer, Ivan Parker, perform. When his mother or four siblings aren't available to drive him, he has no problem hoofing it to Hartselle, Decatur and Athens regularly, he added.

That's resulted in strong legs and a strong sense of pride that he can outwalk anybody. He joked that he knows he can outwalk any of his Interstate Billing teammates because most of them are telephone operators and do nothing but "run their mouths all day."

Hill said he starts soliciting in early March and now most people expect him and have their checks ready. His technique is to only ask people he knows and never ask them when they're in a group.

"It's nobody's business but mine and yours," he said about the value of being discreet.

Hill joined the Interstate Billing team four or five years ago after his church team in Athens stopped participating.

Brown said he's a great asset and not just because he's raising a lot of money for the team.

The team changes team captains every year, and she said Hill is a natural motivator for the new leader because of his enthusiasm and success.

"Our amount has gone up every year since he's been with us," Brown said.

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