WOODSTOCK – Organizers are hoping that the fourth annual 5k for a Woodstock girl who died of a rare brain tumor takes another positive step in expanding its reach.
The Run for Hope 5k brought about 500 participants last year, roughly 200 more than in 2012.
"The community has been unbelievable," said Jay Fuller, Hope Fuller's father. "They were unbelievable when she got sick and (have been) all the way to this day. There are great people in this town."
The race – open to walkers as well as runners – is set for 8 a.m. Saturday, July 12. It starts from the parking lot of Grace Lutheran Church, 1300 Kishwaukee Valley Road, Woodstock. Participants can register at raceagainsttheodds.com or at 7 a.m. the day of the race.
Hope Fuller was 12 years old when she died of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a form of cancer that takes the lives of 90 percent of those afflicted by it within the first 18 months, according to the organization The Cure Starts Now. Fuller – an otherwise healthy child remembered for her kindness and heart for the less fortunate – died within eight months of her diagnosis.
Money raised during Run for Hope goes to "The Cure Starts Now," an organization that provides funding for childhood cancer research.
Last year, the event brought in about $20,000, about $6,000 more than the previous year, organizer Josh Einspahr said. He's set a goal to raise between $25,000 and $30,000 this year.
"The biggest thing, that's so important to me, is that you see a lot of 5k's and fundraisers for other types of cancer, but you don't see too much for childhood cancer," Einspahr said. "And there is a need for that type of support."
Einspahr, a high school friend of Hope's older brother, paired with Hope's aunt, Lynn Fuller, to start the race in 2010.
Several family members and friends have pitched in to keep it going in the years since.
Jay Fuller said the family is motivated both by bringing in money for research and letting more people know about the deadly disease.
"Just awareness," he said. "So nobody has to go through what my daughter did and my family did. Hopefully, some day we can find a cure."