Race #7 – Running for Leukemia and Childhood Cancer Research

Today’s race is dedicated to my dad, a former runner, who’s been battling leukemia for several years. That’s him running high school cross country, above, in the early 60s!

Race #7: Blood Sweat & Tears 5 Miler & 5K Challenge (8.1 miles), in Lawn, PA not far from Hershey

The cause: The Emily Whitehead Foundation, with a mission of raising funding for innovative childhood cancer treatments. It’s named for Emily Whitehead, a leukemia survivor who was the first child in the world to receive a experimental immunotherapy treatment called CAR T-cell therapy. She is from Pennsylvania.

DYK?

  • About 1.4 million Americans are living with or in remission from leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma–all types of blood cancer. About 400,000 of these patients have leukemia.
  • New cases of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma are expected to account for 10% of the estimated 1.7 million new cancer cases diagnosed in the US in 2019.
  • What causes leukemia? In the vast majority of cases, the cause is still unknown.
  • Thanks to advances in treatment, the 5-year survival rate for children with cancer has increased to more than 80%.
  • Raising awareness and funding for innovative childhood cancer treatments that are less toxic and more targeted, such as immunotherapy, is the mission behind the nonprofit Emily Whitehead Foundation.

This was a wonderful race experience! It was the quintessential charity race, with a small field (100 people), starting at a small community firehouse, but with a huge sense of community good. My wonderful husband came along for race support, especially since he knew how much this race meant to me, with the connection to leukemia and my Dad.

A frosty start to the race!

The 5-miler and 5K started together, then diverged on different courses after about half a mile. But “the challenge” course combined the 5-miler plus the 5K course for a total of 8.1 miles. It was a beautiful course, following country roads in Lebanon and Lancaster Counties (including cows who ran along their fencelines with us!) plus a nearby rail trail (Lebanon Valley Rail Trail and Conewago Recreation Trail).

Linda and I

My friend Linda has a special connection to today’s race: This weekend, local runner Mike McCauley is in the process of running 210 miles, from Penn State Hershey Medical Center to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and back again. It retraces the journey of his son’s cancer treatments, and he’s also raising money for the Emily Whitehead Foundation as well as the Four Diamonds Fund. Linda is managing a wildly successful social media campaign providing support to Mike as well as fundraising. Check it out, here! She took a video of us cheering for Mike at our race start. Lots of great charity races going on this weekend!

There were no awards but I was thrilled to take 1st in my age group. Since I’ve never done an 8.1 mile race before, I guess it was also a PR!

But the best PR today is the fact that children like Emily Whitehead as well as Mike McCauley’s son are both cancer-free. Running today will help ensure continued research and innovative cures, and I pray for all of those who continue to battle leukemia including my Dad.

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