On Nov. 20, more than 22,000 people came out in 63 cities across the country to kick off the holiday season by participating in the third annual Give thanks. Walk., a 5k walk that raised $2.2 million to support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the nation's top children's cancer hospital.In just its third year, the event expanded into more than 20 new markets and raised nearly a million dollars more than the previous two year's combined totals. With registration free for this family-friendly event, walkers rallied friends and family members to sponsor them with a donation and national sponsors New York & Company, Brooks Brothers, Window World, AutoTrader.com and Breitling encouraged nationwide employee participation in the event. "Everyone who supported Give thanks. Walk. this year - whether you participated in the event or sponsored a participant - will help St. Jude take the next steps in the fight against childhood cancer," said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude. "During a time when people all over the country are still struggling financially, the funds raised at events around the country last weekend are astounding and serve as a true testament to the importance of finding cures for these deadly diseases that threaten the lives of precious children. We are so grateful for the supporters and corporate sponsors who have embraced our mission and are inspiring hope for the kids of St. Jude." Both the Phoenix, Ariz., and Baton Rouge, La., events had the largest numbers with more than 1,000 participants each and Dallas, Texas, was the top fundraising city in spite of it being only its second year hosting an event. Craig Witsoe is CEO of Lineage Power, a local sponsor of the Dallas event, and father to St. Jude patient Sean, 5, who sadly passed away in April of this year from a cancerous brain tumor. Craig and the team at Lineage Power, helped start the first Give thanks. Walk. event in Dallas last year. This year, the family and fellow walkers participated in a balloon launch in memory of Sean and all the other patients who have lost their fight against cancer. "At the first Dallas walk last year, we carried Sean most of the way with our other four children by our side. We told them we were walking to help St. Jude find cures for Sean and other kids like him," said Witsoe. "This year we walked in Sean's memory but also in hope for all of the children, families, doctors, and nurses who continue to fight childhood cancer...this year I think Sean carried us. "When we told our pastor this year that Sean only had a few weeks to live, he simply gave us a hug and said 'we will walk with you on this part of the journey.' The thousands of people who participated in the Give thanks. Walk on Saturday became a part of every family's journey who is battling this terrible disease. To see a list of participating partners or to learn more visit www.stjude.org.
********** Published: November 25, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 32