When I first visited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital three years ago, I was told I’d have a St. Jude moment. No one could tell me when this moment might occur or how my visit would affect me. I was just told that I would know. At some point during my visit, I realized that if my kids were to ever get sick, I would want the same level of care that St. Jude provides to their kids and families. Knowing that St. Jude takes care of all expenses so families can focus on letting their child live, motivated me to run my first ever half marathon as a St. Jude Hero and I haven’t stopped since.
Last week I traveled to Memphis for my second visit to St. Jude with fellow St. Jude Heroes Ambassadors from the Washington, D.C. area. My travel companions are an inspiring group of individuals with a wealth of experience fundraising, training, and running races for St. Jude. We’re familiar with the mission and volunteer our time to mentor others in our area who have also signed on to dedicate their races and fundraising efforts to St. Jude.
Given my familiarity with St. Jude and my love of their mission to change the way the world understands, treats, and defeats childhood cancer, I wondered if I would have another St. Jude moment. Seeing patients of all ages with their parents in the hospital’s hallways, waiting rooms, eating in the café, and playing reinforced why what I do as a St. Jude Hero is important but that second St. Jude moment came when I least expected it.
While most people who fly in and out of Memphis have a connection to St. Jude, no one could mistake that we were a group of fundraising Heroes as we sat at our gate waiting to board our flight home. As we waited, we talked animatedly, trying to process what we had seen, heard, and experienced when a gentleman came up to our group and simply said, “Thank you for what you do.” He introduced himself to us as a member of the Board and told us that we were the generation that would carry St. Jude’s mission forward.
Immediately I was transported back to a morning in May when I asked my two kids if they wanted to run St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend with me again this year. I was registered to fundraise, train, and run as a St. Jude Hero for the third year in a row and even though we talked about returning to Memphis to run as an entire family, I wasn’t certain it was in the cards. This fall Emily will start high school and Thomas has a standing Scout troop commitment the same weekend but despite increasingly busy schedules, both kids looked at me and said yes without hesitation.
I joke that my kids are motivated to run St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend because of the promise of eating at Central BBQ and Flying Fish but I know in my heart they’re running for the same reason I am: Finding cures. Saving children. Over the years, Thomas and Emily have learned why the mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is so important and I’m proud that they’re committed to ending childhood cancer and helping other kids live.
Raising a new generation who cares about ending childhood cancer is critically important. This year parents of nearly 16,000 children in the United States will be told, “Your child has cancer.” 1 in 5 of those children won’t survive.
The statistics are powerful and heartbreaking but despite them, St. Jude is a place that gives families hope. St. Jude is one of the most highly rated nonprofits, a leader in treating childhood cancer, and is dedicated to covering all costs for treatment, housing, food, and travel so parents can focus on what matters most- helping their child live.
For the past two years, our family has spent the first weekend in December participating in St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend and it’s become one of my favorite ways that we give back as a family. Even though Thomas and Emily aren’t quite old enough to tour the hospital like I have, they know St. Jude’s mission, have heard patient stories, seen photos from my past trips, and read blog posts I’ve written over the years. I am proud that my kids know the importance of why we run and continue to want to be involved because they are the generation that will carry St. Jude’s mission forward.
So on Saturday, December 1, 2018 we’ll be running for the kids who are too sick to run today but could, one day, be running beside us because the money we raised helped find a cure for childhood cancer.
This year our goal is to raise $3000 for St. Jude kids and families and we’re almost halfway there but we need your help!
Help me ensure that families never have to pay for treatment, housing, food, or transportation by making a tax-deductible donation of any amount to my St. Jude fundraising page and our family will match contributions given between today and July 6 dollar for dollar, up to $1000!
Any amount helps. Thank you SO much for your support!
“There is no training that prepares a mother for the words “your child has cancer.” Run with the faith of a child so that all children can cross the finish line. Children of St. Jude run on hope that cancer will be a thing of the past.”
-Paula Head, mom of Carson Elizabeth
Carson Elizabeth passed away at age 9 but would be the same age as my son, Thomas, in a world without cancer.
To learn more about St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend, read my past posts:
- 9 Reasons to Run as a St. Jude Hero During St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend
- Why I’m Running 13.1 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
- St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend: The Rare Time When Money Means Everything
- The Tough Road to 13.1: Why I Pushed Myself to Run My First Half Marathon
- Why You’ll Love Target Even More After Seeing these Photos
- St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Makes Education a Priority to Kids through St. Jude School
I am a St. Jude Blog Ambassador and St. Jude Heroes Ambassador. I volunteer my time to write about St. Jude through my blog and social media channels and mentor fellow St. Jude Heroes in the Washington, D.C. area. St. Jude has covered my travel expenses to visit as a Blog and Heroes Ambassador, but no compensation was received for this post and all tax-deductible donations are personal contributions.