Event celebrates record $22 million raised for St. Jude
MEMPHIS, Tenn., Aug. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today nearly 200 runners raced out of the gates of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital® embarking on the 30th annual St. Jude Memphis to Peoria Run. One race has grown from less than 20 people to an estimated 2,000 participants in 27 cities, all finishing in Peoria, Ill. Since its inception, the event and the satellite runs have raised $22 million for St. Jude, one of the world's premier centers for the research and treatment of childhood cancer and other deadly diseases.
The Peoria community was first introduced to St. Jude when the hospital opened an affiliate in 1972. Ten years later, Mike McCoy started the race as a way to rally the community around one cause: to raise funds in support of the lifesaving mission of St. Jude. McCoy was joined by 18 other St. Jude supporters for the first race raising $22,500 for the hospital.
"It feels great knowing this event has grown from raising more than $20,000 in the first year with an expectation of raising more than $2 million this year in conjunction with the various satellite runs around the country," said McCoy, who has participated each year since the race's inception. "The first year, some people laughed when we stated one day this event would raise $1 million. You know what? They aren't laughing anymore."
Over its 30-year history, the St. Jude Memphis to Peoria Run has grown to include affiliate runs in cities including St. Louis and Chicago. People in communities along the route have embraced the runners, who run in six mile relays over the course of the race. In Assumption, Ill., residents welcome the runners by stocking a barn full of snacks and water. A special area of the run is Freddie's Hill, a section of Interstate 150 in Goodfield, Ill. named after St. Jude patient Bridgette "Freddie" Klein who passed away from rhabdomyosarcoma, the most common soft tissue tumor found in children, in 1987. Each year, her parents meet runners along this highway to cheer them on.
On Saturday, August 6, all runners will end the race in Peoria. A crowd of 5,000 runners, supporters, St. Jude patients and their families, and spectators will gather for this event, including Peoria mayor Jim Ardis and dozens who have made this run for decades.
"The Memphis to Peoria Run is a great example of how one person's determination and vision can make an indelible mark on the lives of our children at St. Jude," said Richard Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude. "We are grateful for the immense support from all runners and volunteers and, especially, the city of Peoria which has embraced this event and our lifesaving mission of finding cures and saving children."
Follow the Memphis to Peoria runners as they chronicle the four-day run with online photo and video highlights. Be sure to "like" St. Jude on Facebook for daily updates.
About St. Jude
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering work in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. St. Jude is the first and only pediatric cancer center to be designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. Founded by late entertainer Danny Thomas and based in Memphis, Tenn., St. Jude freely shares its discoveries with scientific and medical communities around the world. St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family's inability to pay. St. Jude is financially supported by ALSAC, its fundraising organization. For more information, go to www.stjude.org and follow St. Jude on www.facebook.com/stjude and www.twitter.com/stjude.
SOURCE ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital