Last month I had the privilege of participating in the St. Jude Runs: Bloomington to Peoria event.
Okay, let’s start from the beginning: The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.
Do you see that? NO CHILD IS DENIED TREATMENT! That means that they need money to fund their efforts in providing said treatment. So, that is where we come in… The St. Jude Runs. The runs raise so much money, it is ridiculous and I got be a part of the fundraising campaign AND run! People run from all over; Memphis (home of St. Jude), Champaign, Minonk, Chicago, Tremont, Morton, Washington, Quad Cities, etc. and they all arrive in Peoria!
Why Peoria?! Well, because Peoria is the midwest affiliate for St. Jude, that’s why! And this event is so perfectly organized that every team running in arrives in Peoria within this ONE hour (5pm-6pm), with Memphis coming in last. Then, we all line up again and run into the St. Jude Telethon together so we can present our check.
That is the short story… Now, here is the longer story:
In April, my friend Rich asked if I would be interested in running St. Jude. I immediately responded with a resounding “YES”, as the prospect of running from Bloomington to Peoria for this great organization was super appealing! He then told me that I needed to raise $750 to participate. “Okay”, I responded. And so it began, my wild ride at trying to collect money and get people excited for this event!
I made an online donation page and this is where I received most of my donations. Over the course of the next several months I received a ton of donations and came very close to my goal, but I was still a bit short. That’s when I got the email from our fearless leader, Dennis Cler, who announced that volunteers were needed for Miles of Smiles, another St. Jude event (for bikers!). So, I gathered my peanut butter sandwich materials and started on my sandwich journey for that Saturday. It was a great event and I saw some great faces who were ALSO excited and honored to be a part of this event!
Volunteering at Miles of Smiles helped me get OVER my fundraising goal! And there I was, set and ready to run for St. Jude. The final countdown, materials prep and mind prep of running FOR AN ENTIRE DAY was here!
On August 3, Rich picked me up at 6am and we headed over to the mall, the beginning of our 54 mile trek to Peoria! Our buses, trailers, winnebago’s, chase van and massage therapists were all staged and ready to go! We had an amazing pep talk by an amazing mother of a girl who just beat her cancer! In addition, some of my friends came out to say “Good Luck”, one of whom was running herself, but from a different location, Tremont.
At 7:15am we took off on our trek. I was hoping to run at least 20 miles in total over the course of the day (I’ll reveal my actual total later). All 125 runners took off from Eastland Mall and followed winding roads, cornfields and our awesome state trooper escorts to several stops. Of the 54 miles, I had an opportunity to run 30+; some miles were bus only (due to time or runner safety) and other legs were split up between the different smaller teams running together (also for runner safety). Each leg was about 2 miles, and at the end of each leg you could pick up your bus/van or continue running, it was up to you.
There were several rest stops along our way as well. Traditions that have been held for many years, like stopping in El Paso, where the same family has hosted the St Jude Runners every year! We are blessed to have so many loving individuals supporting this cause. We also take a pit stop in Eureka, where residents celebrated the runners and the kids ran around with squirt guns cooling us off. We also had smaller stops, like Kappa, where we actually got to use the facilities inside Kappa Kabanna (eek!).
One of the final legs had us running over the McLuggage Bridge, connecting East Peoria and Peoria and then running down the main strip of Peoria into downtown and right up to the civic center. This was amazing! We were greeted by hundreds of folks on side streets who smiled and waved and cheered us on. Once we got to our destination we were able to watch other groups come in one by one (perfectly planned, I’m telling you!). We were given an opportunity to get cleaned off and then we had to regroup to watch Memphis come through. Sooooo Amazing!
We then all gathered by group (about 6:30pm) and ran into the St. Jude Telethon where even more people, patients, kids and families and more were waiting to cheer us on. We were given a nice meal (a much deserved spread of food and beer) and then we presented our check.. we raised over $210,000 in BloNo alone! Thus making our grand total for all of BloNo’s Runs over $2,000,000! This year, the runners collectively raised $3.4 million!
Throughout the entire day I had butterflies, emotions and most definitely smiles. It was a truly motivating, inspiring and fantastic day. So, how many miles did I end up running for the kids? 26.4, yes, more than a marathon. It was so hard NOT to run on that day as you knew who you were running for and that alone kept your body upright and legs moving!
I’m looking forward to joining this group next year, and have even begun planning to have a new and BIGGER team! So, if you are looking to do something AMAZING, join me in this amazing event!
For all of the pictures and even a couple videos from the event click HERE!