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Emily’s Run grows in popularity, fundraising goals

Samantha, 8, and sister Abby Farabaugh, 11, begin the quarter-mile run Sunday as part of Emily’s Rainbow Run Sunday at the Westlake High School track. Now in its third year, the races funds for pediatric cancer research at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)

Samantha, 8, and sister Abby Farabaugh, 11, begin the quarter-mile run Sunday as part of Emily’s Rainbow Run Sunday at the Westlake High School track. Now in its third year, the races raise funds for pediatric cancer research at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)

Although totals weren’t available on Monday, the third annual Emily’s Rainbow Run likely met its goal of raising $20,000 for pediatric cancer research, said John and Debbie Lewis.

The four-mile road race, which took place Sunday morning near Westlake High School, is named after the Lewises’ daughter, Emily, who died in 2009 following a three-year battle with kidney cancer.

While significant amounts of money are raised annually for cancer research, relatively little of that money is earmarked for pediatric cancers, the Lewises note. Only 4 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s budget for cancer research goes toward pediatric cancers, Debbie Lewis said.

Specifically, the proceeds from Emily’s Run go to pediatric cancer research at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. John Lewis said it’s great that the money raised stays in the local region.

Emily’s Rainbow Fund, which receives the race proceeds, made a contribution of $10,000 to Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in 2009 and $15,000 last year.

John Lewis said the race, which includes a two-mile run/walk and a kid’s run, is a great way to both get the message out about the need for more pediatric funding and raise money.

“Everyone knows Emily’s name,” he said of his daughter, who helped organize and run the first Emily’s Run and was active in Westlake’s Relay for Life. A student at Lee Burneson Middle School, Emily was known for her optimism and outgoing personality despite her battle with cancer.

The strength of Emily’s memory is likely a huge part of the event’s success.

“The community is taking ownership of it,” Debbie Lewis said.

Her husband said that while fundraising is a big factor in the event, they also want it to be a popular community event that people enjoy coming to with their families.

This year, Emily’s Race had about 850 participants, 150 more than last year, John Lewis said.

“It really has become a Westlake event,” he said, adding that it has had a healing effect on his family.

Peter Ogonek and Marlene Bloomfield were the overall winner in the four-mile race.

For the second year in a row, as part of Emily’s Run, the auxiliary gymnasium at Westlake High School included tables with event sponsors as well as nonprofit groups such as Flying Horse Farms, a camp for children with serious illnesses that opened this past fall near Mt. Gilead, Ohio.

Emily attended two similar camps out of state during her illness and helped raise money for the new Ohio camp.

“Camping was really, really special to Emily,” her father said. A cabin at Flying Horse Farms will be named after Emily, he added.

A Youth In Philanthropy award has also been named after Emily. The award is given annually to a young person who follows in Emily’s footsteps by raising money for University Hospitals. This year it was given to 12-year-old Anderson “Andy” Liauw, of Avon.

 

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