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On July 30, more than 158 runners began a 465-mile journey from the door steps of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to Peoria, Illinois, for the 22nd running of the Memphis to Peoria Run.
The runners gathered just outside the Patient Care Center for photos. Then they set off with cheers.
St. Jude patients, families, employees and supporters participate in the run, which has become one of the foremost charity running events in the nation. For many, this is not just any run. All of the runners have been affected or inspired by the world-renowned research center.
John and Kristen Kreckman are running with six other family members to support their 5-year-old daughter, Virginia, who is currently a patient at St. Jude. Fourteen St. Jude employees from various departments will also be participating to give back to the institution for which they work. And many former St. Jude patients are running to prove to the world and themselves that they have finally beaten the cancer that once threatened their lives.
The runners are divided into two teams and alternate running during the relay-style run. Traveling motor homes provide the runners rest and lodging throughout the journey. They will arrive in Peoria on August 2, just in time to kick off the city’s annual St. Jude Telethon at the Peoria Civic Center.
The Memphis to Peoria Run, which was created by Illinois volunteers Mike McCoy and Gene Pratt, requires each runner to raise a minimum $2,000 in pledges to participate. Those who are not able to run may choose to sponsor a runner. Donors who provide a $30 donation to a hospital staff runner receive an official “St. Jude Memphis to Peoria Run” T-shirt designed by a patient.
In addition to the Memphis to Peoria Run, 15 satellite runs throughout Illinois are offered in conjunction to this event. Runners from Elmwood, Decatur, LaSalle/Peru, Tri-County, Galesburg, Canton, Bloomington, Chicago, Macomb, Lincoln, Champaign, Quad Cities, Springfield, Pekin and St. Louis will leave their respective cities in time for all runners to meet in Peoria on August 2.
“The Memphis to Peoria Run and its satellite runs are incredible reminders of the dedication and support communities have for St. Jude,” said David L. McKee, chief operating officer for ALSAC, the hospital’s fund-raising arm.
“Each year, these dedicated runners travel hundreds of miles by foot all for the sake of children suffering from catastrophic diseases. St. Jude is extremely grateful for the time and energy they give in helping us continue our mission.”