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It's good to be snarky

Read how a group of non-runners found the purpose and strength to enter a half-marathon for St. Jude kids

Running a race as a St. Jude Hero is not necessarily as much about winning that race as it is about giving your all to raise funds and awareness for the mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. And no St. Jude Heroes embody the indifference to being the first to cross the finish line more than members of Team S.N.A.R.K.Y. 

That’s “Seriously Not About Running Ks, Y’all,” and they raised a little over $153,000 at the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Half-Marathon in April. Since beginning in 2012, Team S.N.A.R.K.Y. has raised a total of $400,000, so that families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

Team captain Jess Wright was working for a radio station in Maryland when the station partnered with the Nashville marathon, then known as the Country Music Marathon, and approached her about leading a team. “I said, ‘No, that’s ridiculous, I can’t do a marathon.’ They said I could run the half marathon and I said I can’t get up the gumption to even drive 13 miles.” They told Wright that if she could convince 10 people to join the team and raise a certain amount of money, that her trip to Nashville would be free. 


My listeners knew that I didn’t exercise but that I’d do anything for St. Jude, and within an hour we had 25 people signed up. So I was stuck doing a half marathon.
Jess Wright


Wright was a St. Jude supporter before being asked to captain a team of St. Jude Heroes, but her commitment was strengthened when a friend and teammate’s daughter lost her battle against cancer just before her ninth birthday. “She was not a St. Jude patient, but I know that a lot of the protocols that are used elsewhere are developed at St. Jude, so I do it for her,” Wright said.

The team, begun in Maryland but based now out of Nashville where Wright has since moved, was 18-members strong for the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Half-Marathon in April. Those members are scattered from California to Missouri to Massachusetts. There are some runners, but most walk the course.

“There are people who want to do it to raise the money and are terrified of the race itself, and there are people who are terrified of the fundraising but always wanted to try a half marathon,” Wright said. “We’ve got a little bit of both, but what usually ends up happening is once they start the fundraising, they realize it’s not as hard as they thought it was going to be.”

And then there’s the tradition of a St. Jude hospital visit. Wright takes any teammates who get into Nashville on the Wednesday before race weekend to Memphis for a tour of the hospital. “I always learn something new every year, and I swear every time I come there’s a new building,” she said. “It’s always inspirational and it’s always motivational, and it’s cool to think, when I get to the point of the race where I’m struggling, ‘This is nothing compared to what some of those kids are going through, so just keep going.’”

For anyone else out there who is as seriously not into running, there is always room on this dedicated team. “We are always recruiting and we always welcome new members,” Wright said, “even if they want to run the full marathon. Because I’m not going to chase them down and tell them to stop.”


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