CHATHAM, NJ— The enthusiasm of the Sunshine Striders Fun Run participants shone brighter than the afternoon drizzle on Saturday; the one-mile fun run raised over $13,000 for rare cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
“We are here to join the battle against cancer,” Kelly Leach, fun run organizer, said. “I am a cancer survivor, so this event is important to me and my family.” Leach continued by thanking her two boys and her husband for their support and involvement in the event.
Leach was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma in August 2014; it is a rare cancer, and extremely rare in adults. Eager to make a difference, she partnered with Cycle for Survival, a charity that gives 100 percent of its funds to all types of rare cancer research, and started the Sunshine Striders.
“My kids have been a big part of this battle, too — as a distraction from cancer, and as my inspiration to beat cancer,” Leach said, “Because they can't reach the pedals on a spinning bike, I created the Sunshine Striders One-Mile Fun Run so they could join the battle and encourage their friends and our whole community to get involved.”
More than 150 Chatham kids participated in the run. The event started at 3:30 p.m., where runners were given bright orange t-shirts to wear as they ran. Runners stood at the starting line on Dellwood Avenue at 4 p.m., eager to begin, while onlookers cheered on the sidelines.
The Chatham acapella group, No Strings Attached, sang the National Anthem just before the race began.
The runners were off at the sound of the air horn. They sprinted down Dellwood Avenue to Longwood Avenue, where they made the one-mile loop back to the finish line on Leach’s driveway.
Each participant received a medal and a popsicle after completing the run. Runners and their families were invited to Leach’s yard for post-race fun, which included: bounce houses, face painters, a DJ and more.
“I ran in the fun run to raise money for cancer research,” Danny, 13, said with his purple popsicle in hand. His sister, Maddie, 13, emphatically added, “It was really exciting to help.”
“This is another great organization in Chatham,” Chatham Township mayor, Kevin Sullivan, commented. “It really goes to show the great sense of commitment and generosity in the Chatham people. It is especially nice to see young people come out to support this great cause.”
“This past year was filled with lots of challenges,” Leach said, “and the Chatham community was a huge help to us in so many ways. We are very grateful that many kids, friends and families could enjoy the fun run event together.”
This is the first of what Leach hopes will become an annual event.