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Sep 10, 2018 1:04 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Senior Organizes 5K In Memory Of Her Father

Tori Cummins and her dad, Doug Cummins.
Sep 10, 2018 1:04 PM

Nearly every weekend growing up, when Tori Cummins and her Dad, Doug Cummins, came from Manhattan to their summer home in Westhampton Beach, they drove their little boat through the maze of red and green buoys in Moriches Bay. When they found the perfect spot, they drifted over the soft waves, slid a few bait fish onto a fishing hook and dropped a line in the water.

They spent hours on the water, talking and laughing. When they got home, the fun didn’t end there. Mr. Cummins would bring Tori, who was in elementary school at the time, to dance classes, basketball practice and PAL soccer games. The father-daughter duo did almost everything together—and they did it with smiles.

“We were always out and about,” said Tori, now 17 and a junior member of the Westhampton War Memorial Volunteer Ambulance. “I really had a very strong relationship with my Dad.”

Their lives took a turn a few years later, and those carefree summer days became harder to come by.

In 2006, Mr. Cummins was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer. Instead of fishing on the South Fork and playing outside with Tori, he spent more and more days at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where he was receiving treatment.

“After that, I basically grew up in a hospital, watching him,” said Tori, who now plays on the school lacrosse team, is in the honor society and is the president of the Key Club, a service program from high schoolers.

In the early 2000s, there was little research on multiple myeloma and few options for Mr. Cummins. After fighting for five years, Mr. Cummins died in 2011, when Tori was just 10 years old.

Now, in memory of her Dad—her best friend—Tori is fighting back by raising money to help find a cure so other families don’t have to go through what she did.

The Westhampton Beach High School senior is singlehandedly organizing the first annual Westhampton Beach Miles for Myeloma 5K to benefit the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, an organization committed to finding a cure for the cancer. Scheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 15, at the Westhampton Beach High School track, the event is expected to attract at least 100 participants in an effort to raise awareness and remember Mr. Cummins’s strength.

“It’s rough, but doing this makes me feel closer to my Dad,” Tori said. “It’s definitely stressful putting it all together because I want him to be proud of me and I want it to be the best that it can be. It’s for a good cause, so nothing can go bad, I don’t think.”

Tori said she hopes to raise $10,000—$2,800 of which has already been raised through donations, sponsorships and runner registrations. The registration fee is $25 for adults and $15 for children five and under. She’ll also be selling shirts for $20.

For her, the best part is “just knowing that I’m doing something to help other people not have to go through this potentially.”

“This money can help prolong people’s lives,” she added.

Tori began planning the 5K in May, when she connected with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, but said she initially got the idea to organize a fundraising event a few years ago, when her aunt and uncle, Dan and Laurie Cummins, organized the first Miles for Myeloma in Iowa City, Iowa, where her Dad grew up.

Once she got permission from the school to hold the event on the track and field, the rest of the pieces fell into place. When she wasn’t working as a lifeguard this summer at Swordfish Beach Club, in Westhampton Beach, Tori frequented local businesses to get the word out and try to secure sponsors. Dryft Watersports, Circle M Beverage Barn, East End Entertainment, Hampton Coffee and Hamptons Happenings all jumped on board and offered to donate food, drinks, time and money.

With any luck, Tori said she plans to make the event an annual occurrence.

“If this turns out well, them I’m going to try to make next year even better,” she said.

After this year, the 5K will most likely be held in the summers, because, if all goes as planned, Tori—who will begin Emergency Medical Technician training in November, when she turns 18—will be attending nursing school next fall with dreams of one day working at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

“The nurses there always made me feel special and made it not as scary for a little girl to be in a hospital,” Tori said. “They would always talk to me and make me feel more comfortable. That’s what I want to do. I want to make my Dad proud.”

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What an amazing young woman! Best wishes for a hugel successful event!
By Woods woman (133), East hampton on Sep 11, 18 12:04 PM
Yes, Tori Cummins is an amazing young woman. She ran today's event with precision, eloquence and style. The event was a huge success. All that attended had a good time for a good cause. Tori Cummins is a leader and there is no doubt that her father Doug is extremely proud of her.
By Luv da beach (4), Remsenburg on Sep 15, 18 3:02 PM