Turkey Trot for Tots benefits ENC families fighting childhood cancer

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 3:34 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - The Beau’s Buddies sponsored Turkey Trot for Tots had a record turnout this year for their annual 5K race and one mile fun run.

Nearly 700 people gathered along Greenville Blvd on Thursday to lace up their shoes, bare the cold, and raise money for families with children battling cancer.

“We started the first year, we were thinking if we had 75 to 100 people, we’d be ecstatic,” said Beau’s Buddies executive board member Jeff Gaddis. “This year we are at somewhere between 650 and 700, which is probably 250 more than last year.”

Each November, the Stanley family is reminded of the hardest time of their lives. Their 18-month-old son, Beau, was diagnosed with High Risk Stage III Neuroblastoma in 2006. One year later, he passed away on November 29.

“November is a difficult time, but this race kind of helps us,” said Beau’s mother, Jennifer Stanley. “It’s something to look forward to get us through this time of the year.”

Stanley recalls leaning on her community to make it through the dark times of Beau’s illness. Her family, through the work of the Beau’s Buddies Cancer Fund, brings people together to support families just like them.

“We named the organization after my son; we started this race in 2012,” said Stanley. “This is our tenth year, our biggest race yet.”

Not only did the Turkey Trot runners show their support for the sport, but also for the cancer foundation.

“All of our money stays in Eastern North Carolina and we do a multitude of things,” said Stanley.

The cancer fund as paid for gas cards, flights, and lodging for families, chemotherapy chairs and wagons for area hospitals, and even household bills.

“We’re able to get creative and think outside the box of ways to help families and partner with the case workers at the hospital and cancer center to do so,” said Gaddis.

Looking around at how many people woke up early to run in the chilly weather in her son’s name, Stanley remembered why they do this every year.

“I don’t know how we would have done it if we didn’t have support,” she said. “That’s kind of what our organization is for-- to give other families that.”

The 5K race was run by Landon Williams, a 16-year-old student at D H Conley High School. He was awarded a medal, a $150 Fleet Feet gift card, and a pie for his winning time of 16 minutes.

Williams’ entry fee, along with that of the hundreds of other runners, will continue Beau’s legacy in helping Eastern Carolina families in need.

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