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A Million Steps

By Brian Sherman, The Island Eye News Managing Editor

Ted O’Neill has just crossed over Breach Inlet onto Sullivan’s Island during one of his walks to raise money for the fight against pancreatic cancer.

An ancient Chinese proverb tells us that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. For Isle of Palms resident Ted O’Neill, fighting a deadly killer that takes nearly 50,000 American lives a year will begin with the million steps he plans to take during the month of September.

O’Neill’s goal is to raise $1 million toward the fight against pancreatic cancer, which is among the most pernicious of diseases, by walking an average of 18.5 miles a day throughout this month. His route during excursions of three to three-and-a-half hours each morning and another two to two-and-ahalf hours in the afternoon or evening covers virtually the length of IOP and Sullivan’s Island.

Though he hopes those who support his efforts will contribute to the cause by visiting to donate, O’Neill pointed out that he also wants to let people know about the disease that killed his father and his wife’s aunt.

“Pancreatic cancer doesn’t get the attention that other cancers get,” he said. “It’s the deadliest cancer there is, pretty much a death sentence. We wanted to figure out what we could do as a family. We’ve done a lot of walking in the past few years, so we decided to tie those two things together somehow.”

He admitted that raising $1 million seems like a lofty, unattainable goal.

“It sounds almost impossible, but we’ve got to start somewhere,” he said.

O’Neill, who must plan his walking excursions around his work schedule at the technology-related company he and his wife own, said he uses his Apple watch and several apps to measure his steps, and each of them generally comes up with a different number – which could be a problem because he wants to make certain he gets in his million steps this month.

“One showed me with 46,000 steps and another with 41,000 steps,” he explained. “I don’t want to fudge the numbers at all, so I’m going with the more conservative one.”

O’Neill said that if he doesn’t raise $1 million for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network by the end of September, he’ll continue his morning and evening treks across the two barrier islands until he reaches his goal.

“If we don’t reach the goal, we’re going to keep going. If we get it done in one month, that’s perfect, but, if it takes six months, it takes six months,” he concluded.

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