As participants neared the finish line of the half marathon portion of the 2017 St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend, one runner from Kansas was in for the surprise of her life.
For months, 24-year-old Kassade had been preparing for the race — an event that holds a special place in her heart after her younger brother, Konley, was treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 2006. Sadly, despite the tireless efforts of St. Jude doctors, Konley passed away in 2009, at age 11.
In the years that followed, Kassade and her family made the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend an annual tradition, continuing to support the hospital that treated her brother.
“Our promise to Konley was that we’d continue to support St. Jude, even though our son passed away,” said Kassade’s dad, Russ. “St. Jude has kept Danny Thomas’ promise, and I think that’s incredible.”
When a child is treated at St. Jude, families never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
As Kassade neared the finish line in December 2017, St. Jude would soon take on an even bigger meaning in her life. Waiting for her in a tuxedo was her 25-year-old boyfriend, Aaron, who had finished the half marathon just minutes before. He was ready to propose.
When the couple first met during college, it didn’t take long for Aaron to learn about St. Jude and the special meaning it had for Kassade and her family. So when it came time for him to find the perfect moment to propose, the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend was the ideal opportunity.
Our promise to Konley was that we’d continue to support St. Jude, even though our son passed away. St. Jude has kept Danny Thomas’ promise, and I think that’s incredible.
“St. Jude is all about the kids,” said Aaron. “It’s great to be involved with an organization that gives and gives to so many people.”
And just seconds after Kassade crossed the finish line, there was Aaron. He approached her with a bouquet of flowers in hand and got on one knee, asking her to marry him. Kassade quickly responded with a euphoric “yes” as the couple embraced.
“It meant the world to us that Aaron understands what St. Jude means to Kassade,” said Russ. “We now have a wonderful memory attached to Konley and St. Jude.”
Use your strength for a greater good.
What you do for your health can help save the lives of kids diagnosed with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Participate in a local event this year.