By Jeanine LaGorio
On September 23, while neighbors and strangers gather in Chad Carr’s hometown of Saline to run the RunTough for ChadTough 5k and 1-mile fun run, people from across the country will be running virtually in his honor to raise awareness for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) and for funding and research.
It doesn’t end in the U.S., though.
Among the individuals running around the world, two women and their families will be running in China to help their friends and do their part to raise funding, research, and awareness for DIPG. These families are tired of hearing that this is a “rare” cancer, and will be running five kilometers to fight for the children diagnosed with DIPG, as well as the families who suffer because of it.
In a part of the world that boasts about having one of the hardest races in the world, the Boes and the Boehms are running to defeat an obstacle much bigger than the Great Wall Marathon and to honor their commitment to do all they can, all from 7,000 miles away.
The Boes: One Big Baseball Family
Sandy Boe and her family are in the third year of their life in China. They moved there for work, and they love it. They met the Carrs the way many people do: through sports. It was on the baseball field that Sandy’s son, Michael, got to know Chad’s older brother, CJ, and it was during the hours of practices and games that Sandy and Tammi got to know each other as fellow baseball moms.
While kids were learning about winning and losing and the fun of chewing gum and spitting sunflower seeds, the parents were forming a bond with one another, as sports families often do. They become one big family, even if just for one season.
When the Boes moved to Shanghai, they never forgot the sports family they were leaving behind. Sandy is a mother. She is a teacher. She loves children, and she cannot fathom dealing with a diagnosis like DIPG, which she calls a nightmare.
Anytime Sandy sees her community back home raising awareness or funding for DIPG she wants to make sure to do her part to be a part even though she’s physically so far away. She and her husband, Christian, run regularly together. While she admits she doesn’t love it, she calls it a good exercise for a busy mom and a way her kids can see her being active.
Due to the fact that they are in China, Sandy and Christian are unable to run the in the Chicago marathon on behalf of ChadTough this October. As a way to support the cause, however, they recently ran the Great Wall marathon, which is considered to be one of the most challenging in the world. In just a few weeks, Sandy and Christian, and their children Mallory and Michael, will virtually run together as a unit for ChadTough. Training might not be necessary for this athletic family, but that won’t stop them from putting their heart in every step of that five kilometers.
The Boehms: Spreading Awareness
Brandie Boehm’s family moved to Shanghai a few years ago for a work assignment. They are currently there for their second of three years. In 2011, Brandie and her family (including her husband, Eric, and their sons, Andrew and Matthew) moved a few doors down from the Carrs. Brandie and Tammi found themselves forming a friendship over volunteering at school and neighborhood functions, just as their children were forming friendships on swing sets in backyards and on the playground at recess.
When Brandie heard the news about Chad, she was in disbelief. DIPG was something she had never heard of, and here it was, affecting her friend’s family. It was hurting her kids’ friends. Despite feeling shock and grief upon hearing the diagnosis, Brandie and her family did what they know how to do: they prayed, and they remained positive and hopeful.
They did what they could for their friends, and they continue to do what they can for this family in whatever way they can. They are enjoying their time and their adventure in China, but Chad is still someone they hold in their hearts. If given the opportunity, Brandie and her husband will tell people about the monster that is DIPG.
Their sons, however, are the ones who tell Chad’s story the most.
Fashion is interesting to children and teens, and it is no different on a different continent. Andrew wears his ChadTough shirt often and with pride. People are instinctively drawn to ask him about this shirt.
What is ChadTough? What does the shirt mean?
And in those answers, the blight of DIPG and the light of Chad Carr is shared with friends, neighbors and strangers alike. Matthew often played with Chad at the Carr home. He even wrote a poem about Chad during his first year in Shanghai at the Concordia International School to share with his schoolmates. Chad was Matthew’s friend, and DIPG robbed him of that friendship.
All four members of this family will be running the Run Tough for ChadTough 5k virtually in China. It isn’t even a choice for them; it is something they have to do. It is their way of honoring their commitment to do all they can.
A Worldwide Impact
In just a few short years, the name Chad Carr has become intertwined with so many different things.
Many first heard his name because his precious life was cut tragically short due to a devastatingly cruel form of cancer. He is not remembered because of his illness, though; he is remembered and honored because of the way his legacy is changing the world. His story, his smile, his family — whatever the reason, different people have come together and locked their arms to defeat DIPG.
ChadTough was formed when a group of people came together to support the Carr family in Saline, Michigan — not only Chad’s hometown, but a tight-knit city where neighbors take care of each other.
Now, a part of this small, Michigan city will be represented half a world away when the Boehms and the Boes Run Tough for ChadTough 5k on September, 23, in Shanghai.
Join the Fight
You can take part in the worldwide impact Chad Carr is having on DIPG by joining one of three races on September 23:
- RunTough for ChadTough in Saline, Mich.
- RunTough for Team Tommy in Grand Rapids, Mich.
- RunTough Virtual Race sponsored by Bose … anywhere!
The ChadTough Foundation is looking for at least 2,000 participants and $100,000 in fundraising dollars — thank you for being ChadTough!