Courtesy photo | (L-R) Ryan Stokley, Anna Yang and Rami Bikdash are organizing a 5K run on April 14 to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
by Marc Pruitt
Rami Bikdash, Anna Yang, and Ryan Stokley want to leave something behind at Northwest Guilford High School that will benefit others for years to come.
The three students are spearheading the "5K for St. Jude by NW" on Saturday, April 14, beginning at 10 a.m. at Oak Ridge Town Park to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
The mission of St. Jude's is to "advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment." Founded by the late actor Danny Thomas, the hospital treats all children regardless of their race, religion or their family's ability to pay.
"Cancer is so pervasive in our society and there aren't too many people who can't say they've been affected by it in some way," Bikdash, a junior, said. "We felt like we needed to do something to help out. We wanted to do something that can go on for many years after we leave here. We picked St. Jude because of its mission and because it provides free medical care for children."
"It's a cause we can all relate to," Yang, a senior, confirmed. "I've had several people close to me who have gotten cancer, including a close childhood friend. I watched her grow up with it and fight through it. She has accomplished so many great things. So many of us have seen people battle through cancer or deal with something like it and it hits really close to home."
For Stokley, whose father has been battling prostate cancer, the cause is especially personal.
"Ryan just participated in a 5K to benefit prostate cancer," Bikdash said, then added, "His dad is doing really well now."
Rhonda Hudson, math teacher and advisor for Northwest's National Honor Society chapter, Parker Jackson, Latin teacher, and Elizabeth Russell, the school's Key Club advisor, are lending their support for the event.
"I've also invited my former U.S. History teacher, Mr. Ray Parrish, to come out that day and speak," Bikdash added. "He has had a battle with brain cancer for several years and is now in remission. There was a 5K to benefit him a few years ago, and that's what really got me thinking about doing something like this.
"We are trying to make this a community event, not just an event for Northwest," Bikdash said. "We've reached out to the clubs at our school for support and to some of the athletic teams, not just for runners but also for volunteers. I've reached out to my club soccer team and so has Ryan. We'll also be reaching out to churches and maybe some other school teams."
"We hope to have 100-200 runners, but including volunteers and families, we are expecting as many as 300 people that day. We would be really pleased with that, especially for our first time," Yang said.
Several food trucks will be onsite after the race.
"We want to make this a family-friendly event," Bikdash said. "And since it's the first one, we hope it's something the community will get behind and continue to support for many years to come. We want to set a precedent for something that can continue to grow."
want to participate?
5K for St. Jude by NW will take place Saturday, April 14, 10 a.m. at Oak Ridge Town Park, 6231 Lisa Drive (across from Oak Ridge Town Hall).
Race registration fee, which includes a T-shirt, is $20 plus $2.50 online sign-up charge. T-shirts are also available for $10 to those who don't run in the event but want to support it; donations are also welcome, as are sponsors.
For more information or to register, visit www.tinyurl.com/5ksjnw.