Turkey Trot for Tots benefits ENC families fighting childhood cancer

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) — The Beau’s Buddies-sponsored Turkey Trot for Tots had a record attendance this year for their annual 5K race and a fun one-mile run.

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

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

Every November, the Stanley family is reminded of the most difficult time of their lives. Their 18-month-old son, Beau, was diagnosed with High Risk Stage III Neuroblastoma in 2006. A year later, he died on November 29.

“November is a tough time, but this race is helping us a little bit,” said Beau’s mom, Jennifer Stanley. “It’s something to look forward to getting us through this time of year.”

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

“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 the Turkey Trot runners showed their support for the sport, but also for the cancer foundation.

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

The cancer fund paid for gas cards, flights and housing for families, chemotherapy chairs and cars for hospitals in the region, and even household bills.

“We are able to be creative and think outside the box to help families and work with the case staff at the hospital and cancer center to do this,” Gaddis said.

When she looked around at how many people got up early to run in the cold weather in the name of her son, Stanley remembered why they do this every year.

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

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

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

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