This was my first RunTough as the official Director of Communications for ChadTough. I can tell you, it’s been an emotional month since joining this team and the race day itself was intense and incredible. I spent the weeks preceding the event talking to doctors and researchers, learning about the advancements that are being made to find a cure for DIPG. I can tell you, I’ve worked with several amazing non-profits over the years, but still had never seen or even heard of this level of change.
In the middle of the night, hours before the run – every one of us on the ChadTough team woke up to a rumbling sky. We all started texting each other, worrying about what the day might bring. As usual, our executive director Ann Friedholm brought clarity to the situation by reminding us that the DIPG warriors we are honoring have and are facing challenges far greater than we’ve ever encountered.
We all arrived to a pre-dawn sky to get to work. The first thing that shook me to my core was the mass amount of volunteers that were already there. I’ve learned quickly how supportive the Saline community is and I was completely blown away with their level of commitment. I saw faces that I’d only ever seen on Facebook – Tammi’s friends, who only weeks after Chad’s diagnosis decided to put together the first RunTough as a way to help the Carr family manage the unknown costs that were about to be hurdled at them.
The next thing I quickly learned is that RunTough is not only meant to honor Chad – but so many other children who have fought the DIPG monster. That day, Tommy Ruddy’s family held a run in Grand Rapids. Colt DelVerne’s family hosted a run in Sylvania, OH. Both of these babies lost their life to DIPG. The Jones family came out to honor their DIPG angel Carter, and raised $9,000. Lexys Lamp’s family came out to run, and I watched my new colleagues eyes fill with emotion. Lexys died within hours of Chad.
A few weeks ago I was introduced to Chrissy Rodart. Her 5 year old son Wyatt was diagnosed in May, traveling from California to Michigan every 9 weeks for treatment. Still, they held their very own walk, because, as Chrissy will tell you, DIPG is not taking Wyatt without a fight.
The gravity of how many precious children have been diagnosed with DIPG is leveling. I’m going to have to learn to toughen up a bit so I can adequately tell their story.
This year, RunTough for ChadTough, together with our partner families exceeded $280,000 for research on pediatric brain cancer. Wow.
I began my new journey with The ChadTough Foundation learning about the movement they had created. Now, I was watching a reenactment of its birth. I’m blessed, honored and humbled to be a part of this team. I look forward to sharing with you research updates, progress and stories about these precious DIPG angels that we are fighting for.
Written by Jen DeGregorio
RunTough for ChadTough 2019 Sponsors
Platinum Sponsor ($15,000)
Gold Sponsor ($10,000)
Silver Sponsor ($5,000)
Bronze Sponsor ($2,500)
Orange Sponsor ($1,000)