The 3rd Annual RunTough for Team Tommy event on Saturday, Sept. 28, raised more than $30,000 for The ChadTough Foundation, funding Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma and pediatric brain cancer research. Combined with the funds raised at the 6th Annual RunTough for ChadTough honoring Chad Carr and the ColtStrong Fun Run honoring Colt DelVerne, we raised more than $280,000 for DIPG and pediatric brain cancer research.
Our incredible supporters came out in the overcast, misty day to honor Tommy and other DIPG and cancer angels. It doesn’t matter how many times we do this event, the support is always humbling.
I always hope the day will be perfect, but – of course – there were hiccups. It turned into more of a mud run (runners lost shoes in the giant puddles) and our audio system didn’t work because it shorted out from the rain, which meant no microphone and no music!
This day is always an emotional one for me, so the unexpected problems were tough. Thankfully, I was surrounded by incredible participants, volunteers, and supporters to hug and catch up with.
What really helped me stop and be in the moment, though, was when we learned that Meredith Hamlin had lost a clay charm while running the 5K. This wasn’t just any charm. It was her son, Tommy’s, thumbprint.
Tommy, who we were honoring at the race with his free library, passed away in March 2018 after complications from juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma. He was just two years old.
This charm is truly irreplaceable, and the trail included many deep puddles and a lot of mud. There was a good chance she wouldn’t be able to find the charm.
But as Meredith was walking the trail looking for it, she thought about a flock of birds in the distinct shape of a ’T’ she had seen before the run started. It gave her reassurance that everything would be alright. She found the charm at Mile 2, and we all celebrated.
What’s funny is that the clasp on the charm wasn’t even broken, and three other charms on the same chain remained intact on Meredith’s necklace. Perhaps it was a bit of mischief from her little boy?
I took that flock of birds as a message from our Tommys to slow down and appreciate the love and support all around us.
The photo is my very favorite from the day.
Our True Focus
Each RunTough for Team Tommy has stood for more than Tommy and our family. It stands for other local families who have lost children — Emma Buron, Rory Bent-Buist, and Tommy Hamlin — to cancer and other diseases, and it stands for the children yet to be diagnosed.
We are proud to add to the pool of funds making a tangible difference in the research community and also to honor and say the names of those no longer with us. I have no doubt that every single person who attends our race is impacted by cancer, which is why we plan to give everyone an opportunity to remember loved ones at next year’s event, which will tentatively take place on Saturday, Sept. 26.
Please submit your name and email address if you are interested in learning more once details are released!
Finally, our event would not be possible without all of the sponsors and volunteers who give time, money, and materials to the cause. Thank you to our list of sponsors and to our wonderful volunteers pictured below!
- Ridgeview Industries
- Countryside Greenhouse
- Spartan Nash
- Hawthorne Boutique
- The Light Bulb Company
- Fair Haven Church
- Metro Health – Stroke Center
- Peppino’s of Allendale
- Hudsonville Family Dentistry
- Steel Cat Bar
- Lenz-Balder Insurance
- Ravenna Pattern & MFG., INC.
- Mitten Brewing
- Gazelle Sports
- The M Den
- Eric Zane
- Emily Rose Interactive
- Brand Element
- Megan Cash Photography
- Tommy’s Express Jenison