St. Jude Heroes share motivations to cross the finish line

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – The St. Jude Memphis Marathon kicks off this weekend. With a goal to raise $12 million, thousands of runners and volunteers are stepping up to save lives.

A few runners and participants shared the strength it takes to get through a marathon.

“I made it that I would be here for this big milestone, ” said Sue Kessler. 

This year’s St. Jude’s “Hero Among Us” award recipient will lace up for her 100th marathon Saturday.  

The experienced runner, who has collected rocks after every race, was given 100 rocks in the shape of the Memphis pyramid. Keeping her motivated? The very patients she runs past during the race.

“She and I made eye contact, and she was very sick, you could see that she was sick,” shared Kessler about a patient she met last year. “But her eyes, when she looked at me, her eyes were bright and shining.”

Kessler is also touching those who have lost loved ones to cancer.

“I see her heart because she is touched by St. Jude without having a personal connection,” shared Paula Head. “I think that teaches a lot to a lot of people.”

Her child passed after a brave battle with osteosarcoma.

“When your daughter falls into the other 20%, that number is no longer acceptable,” shared the mother. 

So, she’s participating in her child’s honor. 

“We’re going to cross the finish line for Carson and all the other kids that can’t cross the finish line themselves,” commented Head, tearfully. 

Also crossing the finish line for the second time is cancer survivor Jaxon Hindman. 

The high school senior says a scripture verse gave him the push to keep running both the race on the pavement and in life.

“To prosper you and not to harm you,” recites Hindman. “Plans to give you a hope and a future.’ That verse was kind of tugging on my heart some and helped me look back when I finished chemo,” Hindman said.

Last year a record $11.2 million was raised for St. Jude. 

Saturday’s races begin with the 10k and 5k, followed by the marathon and half marathon, plus the kid’s marathon.

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