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Twenty-four-year-old Marcus has been running most of his life—either from cancer or for it.
In 1989, 2-year-old Marcus was treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. After completing three years of treatment, Marcus returned home and he hasn’t looked back since.
“I always knew I wanted to help St. Jude as a way to give back to the hospital that saved my life,” he said.
He may not have imagined that chance to give back would come in the form of a 465-mile relay race where participants run from the St. Jude campus in Memphis, Tennessee, to Peoria, Illinois.
The event, which was held August 3-6, 2011, celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. It leads up to Peoria’s annual St. Jude Telethon, which is in its 34th year.
St. Jude patients, families, staff and supporters lined the drive from the Patient Care Center, through the center of the St. Jude campus to cheer on the more than 200 runners, their families and the support teams as they left for the four-day relay event.
Runners included hospital and fundraising staff as well as former patients like Marcus. The runners are divided into teams and team members take turns running the eight-hour heats. This challenge takes enthusiasm and dedication—two things Marcus fully possesses—for the hospital. In fact, this was his fourth time making the long trek to raise money for St. Jude.
Marcus is so dedicated to the cause that he’s come full circle for St. Jude, having recently returned to Memphis—not for cancer treatments this time, but to work for ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude.
When asked what he would say to St. Jude donors, he says, “Thank you. Thank you because the work St. Jude is doing works. I’m living proof of that.”