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After months of training and preparation, the time has arrived for runners to lace up their running shoes and hit the pavement for the 21st annual St. Jude Memphis to Peoria Run.
The run kicks off today with 142 participants gathering at the gates of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for a special send-off. Participants include St. Jude patients, family members of patients, St. Jude staff and the Memphis Grizzlies’ General Manager Dick Versace and Assistant General Manager Tom Penn. Versace and Penn will be running a portion of the way.
The runners are divided into two teams, which alternate running during the 465-mile trek to Peoria, Ill. Traveling motor homes provide the runners rest and lodging throughout the journey. They are scheduled to arrive in Peoria on Aug. 3.
In order to participate in the run, each person raised $2,000. Donors who provided a $30 sponsorship received an official "St. Jude Memphis to Peoria Run" T-shirt.
Mike McCoy and Gene Pratt, volunteers in Illinois, created the run in 1982 as a way to raise money and awareness for St. Jude. Since its inception in 1982, the run has generated $6.6 million in donations for the hospital.
Runners in the Midwest not able to participate in the Memphis run could join one of several satellite runs offered from the following cities: Elmwood, Decatur, LaSalle/Peru, Tri-County, Galesburg, Canton, Bloomington, Chicago, Macomb, Lincoln, Champaign, Springfield, Pekin, St. Louis and the Quad Cities. St. Louis and Pekin are new runs for 2002. About 800 runners from the Memphis and 15 satellite runs are scheduled to arrive in Peoria on Aug. 3.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, in Memphis, Tennessee, was founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas. The hospital is an internationally recognized biomedical research center dedicated to finding cures for catastrophic diseases of childhood. The hospital's work is supported through funds raised by ALSAC. ALSAC covers all costs not covered by insurance for medical treatment rendered at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Families without insurance are never asked to pay.