Here in Lewiston, an April Fools Day event has become quite remarkable. 35 years ago, a couple hundred runners gathered on April 1 to run a race. Earlier in the planning stages, trying to generate interest, organizers decided to select a charity that runners should collect pledges for. The organizers chose battling cancer as their cause, after recently losing two strong community members. That first morning 222 runners gathered and their pledges totaled $2,232. The male and female winners of the five-mile race were awarded the Ed Kessler Memorial Trophy and the Kim Huhnerkoch Memorial Trophy, respectively. Deemed a success, they scheduled the second Fools Five Road Race for the first Sunday of April 1980.
The success of the inaugural race and the cause generated great interest, and with a more successful second year, Fools Five became an annual event and a household name in the area. Over the years that name has spread beyond the area. The Fools Five grew larger and more productive than its founders ever envisioned. Silent and live auctions were added; the support of the community grew, participation in the race increased steadily, and so far, they have helped raise over $1.7 Million dollars for cancer research. Lewiston regularly welcomes more participants on race day than there are residents. The event has brought people from around the world. Noted past runners/guest speakers have been Dick Beardsley, Garry Bjorklund, Carrie Tollefson, Alberto Salazar, Tony Schiller, Sarah Thorsett (Renk), Frank Shorter, Priscilla Welch, Kenechi Udeze, and Gabriele Anderson.Since its inception, the Fools Five has remained focused on organizing the highest quality race and raising the greatest awareness and financial support for their cause. Pledges, donations, and auction proceeds are given to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, for cancer research. A separate auction raises money for a local cancer support group.
A unique aspect of the race is that afterward, rather than going their separate ways, there is a social hour. Attendees have heard guest speakers like world-class runners Alberto Salazar, Frank Shorter, and Dick Beardsley, as well as cancer research specialists, motivational speakers, and cancer survivors. Each has shared his or her unique message on personal challenges, incredible victories, training techniques, and the importance of supporting cancer research. This year, “A man racing against time” best describes Iram J. Leon, a 33-year-old runner from Austin, Texas. On Nov. 5, 2010, Iram had the first of many seizures during a lunch break while he was working as a probation officer for juveniles. The diagnosis was Grade 2 diffuse astrocytoma in the left temporal lobe, a relentless and intrusive form of brain cancer that carries a survival period from four to eight years.
Leon was still in the hospital in late 2010 when—stunned by news of his terminal diagnosis—he felt the need to run. ”A friend came by and ran with me around the hospital—against doctors’ advice,” recalled Leon. “Running is my therapy.” – He said “It beats sitting down with a therapist.”
He has run the Boston Marathon, and in March of 2013 he won the Gusher Marathon in Beaumount, Texas, while pushing his 6-year-old daughter Kiana in a stroller, with a time of 3 hours 7 minutes and 35 seconds, just one second off his personal record, all while managing terminal brain cancer.
“People shouldn’t wait to live until they’re told they’re dying,” Leon said. ”Go home and hug somebody and don’t wait to be told you have a disease that’s going to kill you. I ran my entire life, and I was dumb enough to wait until I was told I was dying before I ran with my daughter.”
“Plan to be inspired – stay to listen to Iram!”
So if you are up for a run, want to help cancer research, want to be inspired” COME TO LEWISTON the first weekend in April!
Visit http://foolsfive.org for more information
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