Sherry’s Run Honors the Memory of Johnny Keel and Peggie Dill at 2011 Run
Organizers for Sherry’s Run are proud to honor the memory of two very special individuals who lost their battle to cancer last year. Their memory is a constant reminder that one person can make a significant positive difference in those around them. Thank you to their families for letting us honor their memory and what they stood for at this year’s Run.
“Every Day’s a Good Day” was Johnny Keel’s favorite statement, and armed with his positive attitude, he tried to make every day a good day for those he met.
Robert (Johnny) Keel was born in Ballinger, TX. After graduating from the University of Texas, he opened a fitness center in Austin, TX. He sold the successful business in 1999 and worked with Peggy, his friend, soul mate, the love of his life, and wife of 18 years, as Co-Owner and General Manager of Sports Village in Lebanon. He embraced becoming a Lebanonite; he had an absolute love of life and a love of people– and they loved him back. He was an honored member of the Rotary Club and a member of the First United Methodist Church. As an accomplished amateur golfer, he was the Five Oaks Senior Champion for three consecutive years.
When Johnny was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2001, Peggy said he decided his life was going to count for something. He courageously fought the cancer with his wonderful “Quarterback” Peggy by his side. A dear friend said he was so unique in that even at his sickest times, he never complained, was never mad or angry, but fought the cancer with everything he had. Family and friends admired his bravery and strength, but even more impressive was his desire to help others battling cancer. He was the first to call when someone in the community received a cancer diagnosis – sharing his experiences and offering the precious gift of hope with his infamous “NEVER GIVE UP” message. His concern for others was genuine and because he spoke from the heart, his words were always right on target.
He was a tremendous supporter of Sherry’s Run. He and Peggy, along with their Sports Village family, rallied for the cause and had an impressive team each year to participate. His message of prevention was a perfect fit with the Sherry’s Run theme. Being proactive and having health screenings can catch cancer in the early stages – which can be a matter of life or death.
Sadly, Johnny lost his decade-plus battle with cancer on November 25, 2010. A good man, dying during Thanksgiving week, was always thankful for each day he had. He left a community thankful for having had the privilege of knowing him.
To honor him and to continue his legacy of living a positive and healthy lifestyle, the inaugural Go Johnny Go Memorial 5k and 10k Run was held in May, 2011. Also, the Johnny Keel Wellness Foundation was established to organize other events and campaigns to improve the overall health of the community. Johnny’s passion for fitness continued throughout his life. He even maintained a daily exercise routine while fighting his cancer.
Johnny has been given many honors since his death. May we all continue to honor his memory by heeding his message of prevention and by truly realizing that “Every Day’s a Good Day”.
In October, 2009, the school year was in full swing and bubbly Coles Ferry Elementary teacher Peggie Dill was in her element. She loved the little ones and called them by her pet names of “tootsie roll” and “whistle britches”. She loved teaching and the kids adored her.
Her co-workers said she was someone you just loved being around and made “out of this world” fried apple pies. She was a great cook, loved to entertain, and was generous to share her treats with others. She was an avid reader and enjoyed sewing, smocking and quilting. She looked forward to retirement when her youngest child graduated from college and the prospect of grandchildren.
She had been experiencing a nagging abdominal pain that would not go away. Test results one week later revealed pancreatic cancer –with the highest mortality rate of all cancers. A second opinion at the Mayo Clinic confirmed the diagnosis and that surgery was not an option. She began chemotherapy treatments, retired from her 30-years teaching career, and focused on her battle with cancer.
There was a tremendous outpouring of support from her church family at College Hills Church of Christ, her family, friends and the school system. Each person was trying to repay some of the kindness she had so generously shown to others. Coles Ferry Elementary organized a walk in her honor so the students could demonstrate their love for her and promote cancer awareness.
Peggie was a special honoree at the 2010 Sherry’s Run Event. Although her health had deteriorated, she wanted to attend. Ken, her husband of 33 years, worked with Gary Whitaker at Wilson Bank & Trust and she had known Sherry for whom the organization is named. She had observed how Sherry, Gary, and their family had dealt with her disease with courage, caring and grace. She and Ken had also had the opportunity to see the work of the Sherry’s Run organization since its inception and appreciated the tremendous support they provided to those struggling with cancer.
Peggie died on November 6, 2010, after a very valiant struggle with the cancer. Ken and their three children are trying to make a life without her –keeping busy and praying the big hole in their hearts will someday heal. She missed the birth of her first grandchild in April –a beautiful little girl named after her precious grandmother. She will not be at the ceremony when her youngest son graduates from the University of Tennessee at Martin, but he will feel her pride and love.
Ken, Sarah and husband Bob, Anne and husband Alan, and Taylor are grateful to Sherry’s Run for their support and acknowledgment of Peggie. They ask that you remember Alan (currently in his second tour in Afghanistan), and all the troops serving this great country in your prayers.
Please join us at the eighth annual Sherry’s Run as we honor Johnny Keel and Peggie Dill. The Run is scheduled for Saturday, September 10, 2011 at 8:00 a.m. in Lebanon, beside the main office of Wilson Bank & Trust, 623 West Main Street. Mark your calendar and make a commitment to join us.
The mission of Sherry’s Run: Through faith and love create an environment for all those affected by cancer, which provides hope, knowledge, assistance, support and compassion. To learn more about Sherry’s Run or to refer someone who might qualify for assistance, please call 615-925-2592 or visit www.sherrysrun.org.