Three fathers will reunite Saturday, Oct. 1 at the 2022 St. Jude IRONMAN® 70.3® Memphis in a demonstration not only of physical strength but the power of a unique shared connection - having children treated for cancer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. This weekend, the now fast friends who met at St. Jude, will join more than 2,000 registered athletes from 16 countries and 47 U.S. states who are converging in West Tennessee for the second year of this event.
“It is incredibly inspiring to see athletes and our St. Jude families come together and support each other and the mission of St. Jude,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., president and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “Events like the St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis help to make a tremendous impact globally. As they swim, bike and run, these generous supporters are helping advance the six-year, $12.9 billion St. Jude strategic plan that will increase global investments to impact more of the 400,000 kids around the world with cancer each year.”
This event will be a special moment for all three dads, who met during one of the most difficult times of their lives – when their kids were battling cancer.
United by their children
Chris: St. Jude patient Jackson’s father
Chris is the father of two St. Jude patients. Jackson, 7, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in March 2019. Then, during treatment, doctors at St. Jude diagnosed him with AML, another form of leukemia in bone marrow. In May 2019, Chris’ younger son Bennett was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer. He was given multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but the cancer continued to spread. Bennett passed away in April 2021.
Oct. 1, the day of the St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3, marks the two-year anniversary of when Jackson received his mother’s lifesaving cells through a bone marrow transplant at St. Jude. Jackson has been cancer free ever since.
Tim: St. Jude patient Sierra’s father
Tim’s daughter Sierra, 19, was diagnosed at the age of 15 with medulloblastoma, a brain tumor, one she decided to call Gertrude. Remembering the day Sierra was first diagnosed, Tim said, “I just thought we’ve got six months if we’re lucky” and “I just felt that the world was going to miss out on her because she wasn’t going to live to see her 16th birthday.” Sierra’s creativity has been on display at the St. Jude Teen Art show, where she donated proceeds from her sold artwork to St. Jude. Tim said he does not rule out Sierra’s ability to change the world.
Chris: St. Jude patient Calvin’s father
The first signs of Calvin, 13, having cancer emerged in June 2018 after a family bike ride and during Chris’ training for the 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 in Boulder, Colo. Calvin’s mom noticed a bump on his back and his right leg was swollen. A trip to the doctor and a CT scan revealed the presence of cancer, and a biopsy a few days later typed it as stage IV rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissue. Despite wanting to quit under pressure, Chris had to keep training, if not for himself, for his son and so many other kids around the world. Calvin is now his dad’s greatest cheerleader, motivator and training partner as he prepares for the St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis.
Race weekend kicked off on Thursday, Sept. 29 with athlete check-in at the IRONMAN Village expo at Shelby Farms Park. On Saturday, Oct. 1 athletes will begin their IRONMAN 70.3 journey throughout Memphis and Shelby County.
Because of events like this, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food - so they can focus on helping their child live.
To donate, visit stjude.org.
About St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Its purpose is clear: Finding cures. Saving children.® It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80% since the hospital opened in 1962. St. Jude won't stop until no child dies from cancer. St. Jude shares the discoveries it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Because of generous donors, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, so they can focus on helping their child live. Visit St. Jude Inspire to discover powerful St. Jude stories of hope, strength, love and kindness. Join the St. Jude mission by visiting stjude.org, liking St. Jude on Facebook, following St. Jude on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok, and subscribing to its YouTube channel.