Families in St. Jude Marathon share stories of heartbreak and survival

MEMPHIS, TN. — Millions of dollars are going into the coffers of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital after the St. Jude Marathon wrapped up for the 21st year.

A mood of happiness and community filled the streets as 20,000 runners carved a 26-mile path through the heart of Memphis.

According to a release this is the largest single-day fundraiser for the hospital reaching a record of 14 million with an economic impact of 37 million benefitting retail businesses, transportation, and lodging

“It’s tradition, I come every year, almost 12 years now,” said Chris Reid, dancing with a group of friends near the finish line.

For others turning that corner carried a heavier meaning.

“Job is our son. … He passed away five and a half years ago from DIPG; it’s a brain cancer. He was five and a half,” said Chase Kemp, standing next to his wife Katie. “We come out here generally carry 60 pounds in a rucksack, which is what he weighed at the end of his life.”

“It’s amazing there’s so many people out here cheering on. We’re not the only family out here that’s lost a child. … My son, who has the most obscure name, in a story of suffering, went through a life of suffering.”

Some celebrated another year of triumph for a friend.

“Sarah is a good friend of ours. We take about a dozen people from Kansas City. (Sarah’s) been coming back and forth to Memphis. She’s a survivor and we come here to support her,” said Teresa Kemps after crossing the finish line.

Those competing in the marathon were also given a chance to ring a bell which symbolizes the victorious ending of a person’s battle with cancer.