In many ways, Rocky Heckman was a symbol of the values we hold dear in Montana. He was diligent. He was honest.

He did his part to lend a helping hand. Rocky became well known in central Montana for his work as an outfitter and for his contributions to various rodeo organizations, particularly those designed for children.

On April 22, 2017, Rocky passed away following a two-year battle with brain cancer. To honor him, the organizers of this year’s Choteau 4th of July Fun Run are rechristening it “Rocky’s Road.” The fundraising race, which has taken place on the highway in years past, is being moved to the high school’s all-weather track. Participants in the 4-mile event will have the option to pay an additional $10 to go an extra 1.8 miles, bringing the total distance to 5.8 miles. (Rocky was 58 when he passed away.) A donor will be providing a 100% match for each person that signs up to walk or run the additional distance.

Rocky’s wife, Lorell Heckman, believes the memorial race is an apt way to honor him. To her, the new track serves as a metaphor for what her family has been through the last two years.

“Life isn’t always a highway. Life can be kind of rugged,” she says.

When Rocky was diagnosed with brain cancer, Lorell set up a page on Caring Bridge (website) called “Rocky’s Road” to discuss what she was experiencing and to seek comfort and understanding in the experiences of others. Since his passing, she has created a memorial fund called Rocky’s Road Continues. Funds from the race will go toward this, as well as Cancer Vive It, a non-profit that Lorell is in the process of establishing as a 501(c)3.

Cancer Vive It is designed to be a support group (located in Great Falls) for cancer fighters and their caregivers. Each meeting will start with a guest speaker.

Then cancer fighters and caregivers will break into two separate groups to share their experiences and offer each other support.

The organization is still in its planning stage and Lorell would like to extend an invitation to anyone interested in getting involved. She’s looking for medical, legal, and other professionals to sign up as guest speakers and she encourages people that can offer other talents (such as web design) to reach out as well.

For more information on Cancer Vive It, visit Cancer Vive It’s Facebook page. Registration for Rocky’s Run can be found at runchoteau.com. Donations or memorials to Rocky’s Road Continues can be made at any US Bank.