PHOENIX, April 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The indelible image of the sixth annual Grand Canyon University Foundation's Run to Fight Children's Cancer was race starter Emma Kerr getting out of her wheelchair and pushing it across the finish line on March 12.
There were more tears, smiles, laughter and cheers last week during the Run to Fight Awards Banquet when it was announced that the event raised $84,000 for its two charities -- Phoenix Children's Hospital and the Children's Cancer Network. Funds provide support for families through many avenues, from research to scholarships and gas cards. Last year, funds were used to create a counseling position at PCH to help families battling a disease that kills more children than AIDS, asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and congenital anomalies combined.
"It warms our hearts knowing what each of these organizations is going to do with those dollars," said Ildi Kerr, whose daughter Emma was diagnosed with leukemia in November of 2014. "We're going to figure out how to find a cure."
Race Director Debbie Accomazzo said events like Run to Fight are vital because childhood cancer is one of the most overlooked and underfunded diseases.
"This is an amazing example of how a community beats cancer," Accomazzo said. "The amount of support we received from so many people was incredible -- from our sponsors to the community to our GCU students and employees who were running or volunteering or raising funds."
The sixth annual festival-style event brought the total contribution amount to over $450,000 since it began in 2011. This year's run attracted more than 2,000 runners for the 10K and 5K races. Another 100 cancer survivors participated in the quarter-mile Cancer Survivor's Walk, which honors children who have beaten the disease, those who are still fighting, and those who lost their battle with cancer.
Pono Construction, which is responsible for the massive building campaign on GCU's campus in Phoenix, served as the presenting sponsor of the race for the sixth straight year. In addition to its $20,000 corporate sponsorship, Pono raised an additional $18,000 in individual fundraising to support Run to Fight Children's Cancer.
Butch Glipsie, owner of Pono Construction, had a somber moment at the Awards Banquet when he shared his personal connection with cancer: a friend's grandchild who recently was diagnosed with the disease.
During the celebration, Carol Gary remembered the words of her son, Evan, before he lost his battle with leukemia.
Evan, she recalled, quietly lay on the side of his bed four years ago and said, "I sure hope somebody is learning something from all of this."
"I think what he was talking about was the willingness of every child who goes through cancer, the weariness and the commitment. Evan wanted so much to have a role in the solution," Carol said. "That is why we passionately see the need for research expansion and that's where our heart is."
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 10,000 children under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2016; 1,250 of them will not reach adulthood.
Grand Canyon University Foundation is an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) public charity whose mission is to embrace the generosity of the Christian spirit by making donations in the communities in which the students, faculty/staff and friends of Grand Canyon University live, work and serve. For more information about the run, visit www.runtofightcancer.com
Children's Cancer Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing assistance to Arizona families dealing with childhood cancer. Established in 2004, the organization lends financial support to families, promotes patient and family education about cancer-related issues, and sponsors activities that build the self-esteem of childhood cancer patients and their siblings. Children's Cancer Network is committed to helping children and families dealing with the stressful and uncertain times that begin with initial diagnosis and often continue for years thereafter. Visit www.childrenscancernetwork.org for more information.
Phoenix Children's Hospital, ranked in U.S. News & World Report's Best Children's Hospitals, is Arizona's only licensed children's hospital, providing world-class inpatient, outpatient, trauma, emergency and urgent care to children and families in Arizona and throughout the Southwest. As one of the largest children's hospitals in the country with 465 licensed beds, Phoenix Children's provides care across more than 65 pediatric specialties. The Hospital is poised for continued growth in quality patient care, research and medical education. For more information about the hospital, visit www.phoenixchildrens.com.
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SOURCE Grand Canyon University Foundation