Friends of Robert "Banny" Banfield couldn't believe it when he was diagnosed with cancer.
"This guy was the image of what a healthy person should be," Nate Hildreth said.
Banfield was committed to a healthy, active lifestyle. But ironically, that made typical treatments for neuroendorcrine cancer dangerous, his friend Shane White said. His heart was so strong that doctors feared it would pump irradiated beads throughout his body instead of staying centralized in the areas that needed treatment.
Banfield, 54, died April 25. But before he passed away, friends pledged to "Battle for Banny" and raise money for cancer research and Beaufort Memorial Hospital's Keyserling Cancer Center.
"Before he died, we told him what we wanted to do, and he thought it was awesome and was humbled by it," Hildreth said.
Firefighters across the county are teaming up for Cubes for the Cure in honor of Banfield, who was a firefighter for several departments in different states since 1989 and worked at Parris Island from 2004 until his death.
Banfield was a dedicated runner, swimmer and firefighter, friends said, and despite cancer, he ran in a biathalon in March.
So far, 27 Banfield supporters, including many firefighters, will run the half or full marathon in Savannah at the Rock and Roll Marathon on Nov. 3, but White is adding a twist. He hopes to get into the Guinness World Records for the most Rubik's Cubes solved while running. To do this, he needs to complete 101 by himself in less than five hours.
White said Banfield gave him much good advice when he took up running a few years ago. White began solving Rubik's Cubes during long runs to slow himself down and prevent burnout.
He hopes the attempt to break a world record, combined with ongoing fundraising and education efforts by the Cubes for the Cure group, will raise money and attention to the cause.
"We feel like we owe it to Bob to make this as big as we can," White said.
The group is seeking runners to raise donations and volunteers to help organize events leading up to the race. A motorcycle rally and fundraiser is tentatively planned for Oct. 20 at Carolina Wings in Port Royal.
Volunteers also will be needed at each of the 15 water spots along the race route to resupply White with new Rubik's Cubes to solve.
All proceeds will go toward cancer research at the Keyserling Cancer Center.