I am so excited to be running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Marathon to support St. Jude’s Children's Research Hospital! It’s been 10 years since my last marathon so I have already been training and preparing for the big day on April 29, 2017. I remember my two previous marathons and how much I enjoyed them. I had plans to continue this new pursuit when I myself was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) in October 2007. After a month of chemotherapy I was considered in remission. I had several more months of chemotherapy, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant in June 2008. Thankfully I have been cancer free for almost 10 years.
St. Jude’s does amazing research for children’s cancers and other catastrophic diseases. Since its founding, the survival rate for ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) has increased from 4% in 1962 to 94% today. As a survivor of ALL, I am beyond thankful for the strides that institutions such as St. Jude’s have made in research for my cancer. It is because of their research that I am able to run a marathon almost 10 years since my diagnosis. Even though great advances have been made in certain cancers like ALL, there are other cancers and diseases which have very few or no effective treatments. At St. Jude’s, every dollar is focused on treatment and research for children. Their mission of curing various disease is in great need of support and funding.
There are two little boys who have inspired my desire to run and raise money for this great cause. Caleb Gibson, the son of one of my former basketball teammates Blair and her husband Lee Gibson, was diagnosed at age 3 with Histiocytic Sarcoma in July 2015 after initially being diagnosed with AML (acute myeloid leukemia). Histiocytic Sarcoma is extremely rare and most often diagnosed in adults. As such, there is not a clear treatment plan for Caleb and he has been through many different medications and treatments to get rid of his cancer. On June 10, 2016, Caleb received the wonderful news that he was in remission. While he still has a long road in front of him, he is now able to get back to being a kid and enjoying his childhood.
During his treatment at UVA Hospital in Charlottesville, VA, Caleb became best friends with another little boy, Brayden “Brady” Kier. Brady was diagnosed with AML in 2014 at age 2. AML is the second-most common form of leukemia in children, after ALL. Brady sought treatment at UVA Hospital and at St. Jude’s in Memphis, TN and fought hard against his disease. On June 10, 2016, the same day Caleb Gibson was declared to be in remission, Brady Kier passed away.
No child should have to die from cancer. No family should have to bury their three year old. These children deserve a normal childhood. They should be spending their days playing on playgrounds, getting dirty in creeks, splashing in puddles, and learning and exploring the world around them. Treatments provided through our donations allow these children the opportunity to regain their childhood and lives. Research provided through our donations search for cures for these diseases so children don’t have to die before they really get a chance to live. Please join me in helping St. Jude’s fund more research for children’s cancers and diseases.
I invite you to follow and support both Caleb and Brady and their families on Facebook; their pages are Caleb Kicks Cancer (https://www.facebook.com/Calebkicksleukemia/?fref=ts) and Being Brady Strong (https://www.facebook.com/BeingBradyStrong/?fref=ts).
Thank you for donating and helping me reach my goal for the kids of St. Jude! I would love to go above and beyond the goal I set, so please share this page with your friends and family!
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