Cancer Kids First extends its hand at charity event

The young faces of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital dance to the rhythm of songs and run wild in the open heat, smiling from ear to ear.  

Supporters of children with cancer arranged a walk and run event at Grandscape in The Colony to build up hope and courage to those suffering from illness.

On Sept. 23, volunteers arrived as early as 6:30 a.m. to set up.

The people who made this event possible, whether it be by working at the face painting stations or working as a part of the set-up crew, have shown immense dedication and support. 

Cancer Kids First, a Coppell High School student-led club, provided a volunteer opportunity for members to work as Mission Experience Volunteers at the St. Jude’s Walk/Run.

Lines extend as families and friends arrive for the St. Jude Walk/Run on Sept. 23 at Grandscape in The Colony. The St. Judes walk/run is a non-profit event focusing on cancer awareness for patients and families. (Katie Park)

“Although it was very early in the morning, everyone had a smile on their face and were excited to help,” Cancer Kids First’s co-president junior Catherine Ma said.

The volunteers of Cancer Kids First met at the pediatric cancer family area tent, ready to deliver smiles and support patients. 

“One thing I didn’t expect to see was the amount of people,” said CHS sophomore Nandika Bodapati, a Cancer Kids First member. “It was refreshing to see people from various backgrounds coming together to make an impact.” 

Little kids and toddlers basked in the open sun under the morning heat, played with balloon swords, blew bubbles and laughed with one another. Adults prepared themselves before crossing the start line as they took sips out of their beverages and wiped sweat out of their eyes. They too, care a good deal about the cancer patients, and do everything they can to support them.

“It is a blessing to be able to provide them an opportunity to celebrate what they’ve overcome and, in other instances, remember those they’ve lost,” pediatric cancer family mentor Shannon Smith said. 

St. Jude Walk/Run donors from Pollo Campero attend the event on Sept. 23 at Grandscape in The Colony, sponsoring the Kay Kafe tent for refreshments for participants of the walk/run. The St. Judes walk/run is a non-profit event focusing on cancer awareness for patients and families. (Katie Park)

Smith’s goal through the St. Jude Walk/Run is to establish a network of families that can come together as they navigate life with cancer and after treatment. Her daughter, Hannah Smith, was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor in 2020, which has led Shannon to partake in changing the lives of cancer patients for the better.

Nicole Vasquez, a member of the St. Jude Walk/Run Planning Committee, donated her time and love to the St. Jude Walk/Run.

“I’ve seen hope, I’ve seen patients, and I am actually running this marathon for someone who lost their battle, and I’m here for that,” Vasquez said. “I’m here to help find a cure for pediatric cancer.”

The Cancer Kids First members have shown immense support in their willingness to arrive early, showing that they deeply care about the well being of children.

“Seeing anyone suffer with such a devastating disease is awful, so if i’m able to even make a small difference in their life, it’s a win for me,” Ma said.

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Originally posted 2023-10-12 13:00:12.