The DeSoto County running community will be out with a strong contingent on Saturday, Dec. 2 to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at the annual St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend run through the streets of Memphis.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the well-known comprehensive cancer center that focuses on pediatric cancer and other life-threatening diseases of childhood from its campus near downtown Memphis.
Entertainer Danny Thomas founded St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 1962. The hospital was founded on the premise that “no child should die in the dawn of life”.
Thomas’ dream was to treat children regardless of race, color, creed, or their family’s ability to pay. The hospital’s primary focus would be on children with cancer and other supposed incurable diseases like muscular dystrophy.
Patients are not charged for their care. Eighty-two cents of every dollar received from donations, research grants, insurance recoveries and investment returns goes to support the current and future needs of St. Jude.
The Marathon Weekend becomes one of the major fundraising events of the year for St. Jude. As of Tuesday, Nov. 28, according to its website, nearly $11 million of a $15 million fundraising goal has been reached.
While several of those from DeSoto County will be repeat participants in the annual run, for Hernando Alderman and DeSoto County Adult Detention Center Director Chad Wicker, this will be his first time. Wicker has taken part in other running races, such as the Hernando Water Tower 10K, but running the half-marathon on Saturday will be his latest challenge in a 4-5 year journey back to a more healthy lifestyle.
“I used to be about 350 pounds and I started concentrating on my health,” Wicker said. “I started to lose some weight and got into running. I’ve always run the Water Tower 10K and I wanted to challenge myself and do a little bigger race, so this is my first time running a half-marathon.”
A half-marathon amounts to 13.1 miles, where a 10K, or 10 kilometer, run is about 6.2 miles in length, so Wicker expects to be running the equivalent of two 10K runs in one.
“It’s a great cause and I’m excited to do it,” Wicker said about St. Jude. “DeSoto County has a great running community with a lot of good runners around here and people from the county and Hernando will be running in the race.”
Wicker said the running regimen that he has developed helps him to momentarily step away from the pressures of city government and overseeing a jail facility.
“It’s part of my fitness journey,” Wicker said. “I was not the healthiest person about 4-5 years ago and I had to concentrate on that, the gym and running. It’s a good time to clear my head and it’s my time to listen to my podcast, music or whatever. It’s a good time to get away.”
Wicker said he hopes to run the half-marathon in about one hour and 45 minutes on Saturday at the St. Jude half-marathon.