Family and Friends,
Today is St. Patrick's Day, but St. Jude is on my mind.
Eight years ago, I attended my first St. Jude Run. I was a spectator, gathered with my friend Julie and a crowd of her loved ones in her front yard. Her husband, Corey, had decided to run the East Peoria Run that year. They had many friends running the Washington Run as well, and the runners from both towns met in front of their house to take a quick rest, get a drink, pray, and release red balloons. The prayers and balloons were in honor of Julie and Corey's son, Nathan, who recently had been diagnosed with medullablastoma, a type of brain cancer. Nathan was too sick to come outside to join the excitement, but he watched the festivities from the window. His little sister, Olivia, joined Julie in cheering on the runners, giving hugs, and passing out drinks. I watched all this with tears streaming down my face. This huge swarm of sweaty runners in the street felt like family. They looked like love. They brought hope and comfort and a reminder that Nathan and his family weren't fighting their battle alone. These runners were supporting St. Jude, and St. Jude was supporting Nathan.
Seven years ago, I didn't watch the run. I ran it. I wanted to raise money for a cause I believed in. I'd seen how much St. Jude had done for Nathan, at no cost to his family, and I knew that work had to continue. I didn't see myself as a runner, but I knew I could run for Nathan. Although it was WAY out of my comfort zone, it was nothing compared to what Nathan and his family were going through.
Five years ago, after a four-year battle, Nathan passed away. He was eight years old. Even after losing Nathan, his family continues to raise money and awareness for St. Jude. They don’t want any family to go through what they’ve gone through. They trust St. Jude to continue its work toward ending childhood cancer.
Three years ago, my friend Courtney's son, Reed, was diagnosed with cancer. It was medullablastoma, the same type of cancer Nathan had. After many months of treatment at St. Jude, Reed is back at home. He visits St. Jude regularly for testing, but currently he is cancer-free.
This August will be my eighth year as a St. Jude runner. For the first time, my daughter, Renee, is old enough to join me. She’s excited to help raise money for St. Jude. I’m grateful and incredibly humbled by the fact that my kid happens to be healthy enough to run. The unfairness of that will stay with me as we run for so many kids who aren’t. The need doesn't end. Families like Nathan’s, Reed’s, and so many others are counting on St. Jude for research, treatment, and eventually, a cure. St. Jude has done wonderful work in improving survival rates, but until no child dies of cancer, their mission continues.
Did you know?
*Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survivor rate from 20% to more than 80% over the past 50 years.
* Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food so that they can focus on the most important thing – helping their child live.
*The daily budgeted operating cost of St. Jude is $2,000,000. Approximately 75% of that is covered by public contributions.
*All costs for the running events are covered by volunteers and donations from local businesses, so 100% of every dollar donated to the runs goes to St. Jude.
If you would like to join Renee and me in helping to support the work of St. Jude, please click the link to donate. Whether or not you are able to give, please hold the kids and families of St. Jude in your thoughts and prayers. It is for them that we run.
Thanks so much!
Helen and Renee Potts