When 46-year-old Eric crossed the finish line of the 2016 Oregon Warrior Dash, a number written down his arm set him apart from his fellow participants. It was his medical record number: a symbol of his journey as a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Determined to improve his health that year, Eric spent months searching for a race that would be compatible with his schedule. “With every race that I tried to book, the timing was never right,” he said. But one day, he learned about the Warrior Dash — a unique 5K with a variety of obstacles and difficult terrains.
It was on the Warrior Dash website that Eric noticed a familiar image on the screen. It was the St. Jude logo. As a St. Jude Hero, he could participate in the race and fundraise for the hospital. “At that point, it was a no brainer,” he said. “It was very serendipitous.”
Eric’s St. Jude journey began when he was 16 years old. After noticing a bump on his neck, a biopsy soon revealed he suffered from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Doctors referred Eric to St. Jude, and within a few days he was on a flight to Memphis. “I was yanked from the life of a healthy, athletic teenager and hooked up to an IV with three tumors in my body,” he said. At St. Jude, Eric underwent a treatment plan that included two years of chemotherapy.
St. Jude has helped push the overall survival rate for childhood cancer from less than 20% when we first opened our doors to more than 80% today. We won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.
To show his appreciation for the hospital that saved his life, Eric raised close to $2,000 for St. Jude. “I got a lot of support and it was heartwarming to tell my story and ask people to support the race and St. Jude,” he said. “I wanted to kick start my health, and St. Jude was a big part of that.”
And as Eric crossed the finish line, he was greeted by three of his biggest supporters: his wife and two daughters. “Thanks in large part to the dedication, research and care of St. Jude, I get to crack up laughing with my wife and throw my daughters into the air,” he said. “It’s awesome knowing that a place like St. Jude exists.”