Santana Row was overflowing with superheroes on Aug. 18, during the third annual Kidrageous Super Fun Run. The event is put on annually by Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services as a way for young cancer patients, their families, and their support systems to have a little fun.
“Children with cancer are children. They’re not cancer patients first and foremost, they’re children,” said Lori Butterworth, founder of Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services. “This event is a reminder of that.
“Most of our programs, not all of them, but a lot of them are really inspired by one family or one child,” continued Butterworth.
That includes the Kidrageous Super Fun Run, which was inspired by Gabi Contreras. Her daughter Giselle was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of three.
“When my three-year-old was diagnosed, I just didn’t understand how that could happen,” said Contreras. “She wasn’t smoking, she wasn’t drinking, she wasn’t on this earth long enough to be exposed to anything that would give her cancer.
“What I found and how I empowered myself and my family was through nutrition and through exercise,” Contreras continued. “I had read that adults who exercise through treatment and ate well and ate very nutritious meals during treatment recovered quicker. I said, ‘I got to do this for my daughter.’”
Contreras says her daughter seemed to deal with chemotherapy better when she was eating nutritiously and exercising.
November will mark the three-year anniversary of Giselle’s remission, but Contreras’ experience continues to drive her to try and help. That’s why she helped create the Kidrageous Super Fun Run.
“The cancer diagnosis is on the child, but the effects of it are through the whole family,” said Contreras. “The siblings, the parents, everyone is affected.”
The fun run encompasses all the things Contreras found helped her while she was dealing with her daughter’s diagnosis. Booths at the event talk focus on good nutrition and there’s a yoga class before the run starts to get the kids motivated.
Proceeds from the run will benefit Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services, a non-profit that is currently working with 331 families who have their own children dealing with a serious illness.
“What kids with cancer need more than anything is their family to be as cohesive as possible throughout the trajectory of treatment,” said Butterworth.
Jacob’s Heart provides those families with the little things that help keep the family going, whether it’s helping to pay the monthly bills, dropping off groceries or driving patients to treatments.
Every year, the organization also hosts a camp for the families that have lost a loved one.
“[We have] wellness program where we work with families to keep the families strong during the treatment or after bereavement,” said Butterworth. “[We work to] restore a sense of hope regardless of the outcome.”
Butterworth founded Jacob’s Heart in 1998 because of her own experiences. Her neighbor, Jacob, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) as a child. Butterworth started by helping his family through the treatment and into remission.
To find out more about Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services, visit jacobsheart.org.