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Never giving up

Read how this St. Jude Hero combines hard work and support for St. Jude toward accomplishing her dream of running a full marathon.


In May 2015, Traycee Benjestorf of Rocklin, California, had reached a low point in her life.

A single mom who had lost her job, Traycee watched as her weight, already at a dangerous level, rise and her self-esteem fall as she coped with the stress by overeating.

But she stepped back to assess her life and made a bucket list that included competing in a full marathon. She also decided to turn that resolve into support for the kids of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

A year and a half later, Traycee is well on her way to a goal that, at one time, seemed impossible. In November, Traycee ran as a St. Jude Hero in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, a night-time run along the famous Las Vegas Strip. 


Traycee Benjestorf, center, completed her first half-marathon in June 2016 in the Divas Half Marathon in San Francisco.

Las Vegas friend and fellow St. Jude Hero, Josue Santos, encouraged Traycee to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas. But getting there was going to take time and a plan. The two trained “virtually,” talking daily about their miles, their running time and sharing words of encouragement about “our weight loss and health journey.”

Traycee raised $540 and contributed to Josue’s fundraising total, allowing them to run as a St. Jude Heroes team.

Choosing to run as a St. Jude Hero was easy for Traycee, because a cousin’s child had received treatment at a St. Jude affiliate clinic, and she feels the St. Jude mission is second to none.

“As a momma, if my son were to become sick, I would want to spend every waking moment by his side, doing what needs to be done to save his life and having the best medical care possible. St. Jude provides all that and the parents never have to worry if the treatments, hospital stays and medicine are covered by their insurance or not, providing they even have insurance. So if I can raise money by running various distances, then that's my part to help children and their families become and stay whole.”

You, too, can help give hope to kids who are fighting life-threatening illnesses.

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