St. Jude Virtual Run

St. Jude Virtual Run - December 2, 2017

Every year on the first Saturday of December, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital hosts their Marathon Weekend. Marathon Weekend is the biggest event of the year in historic Memphis, Tennessee. For the past two years, Heather and I have attended with my entire family in honor of Lylah. Sadly, we are unable to attend this year since we moved to Portland, Oregon. While we could fly home, it’s a lot of flying due to the race day falling between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So, we had an idea for Dande and the Lion—create a virtual run!

What is a virtual run? A virtual race can be ran (or walked!) anywhere—even indoors on a treadmill. How would the virtual run work? Simply make a donation of any amount (minimum $5) here. All money donated goes directly to St. Jude. After making your donation—this is your entry fee—simply email me the distance you pledge to run or walk—it can be anything from one mile to a full marathon! Also, I’d love if you included your address in the email so that I may send you a thank you happy! On December 2, 2017, we will all run together in heart and mind! You can run at any time that day. I’ll be sending you words of encouragement!

So where is your donation going? Thanks to donors like you, no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80% since it opened more than 50 years ago. Your specific donation will be going to Lylah’s Legacy. What is Dande and the Lion? Heather and I co-founded Dande and the Lion in February of 2016. Together we write vegan meal plans, workout plans, and sell apparel. We then donate 10% of all our proceeds to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Click here to shop our signature “I Help Children Fight Cancer” shirt.

Who is Lylah? As a kid, I had an extremely small family. Being an only child growing up, TJ—my only first cousin—was all I had. So when TJ had Lylah in 2011, I was ecstatic! She was perfect! At the age of two—near Easter—we found out that Lylah had Neuroblastoma. Neuroblastoma is a type of childhood cancer that develops in nerve tissue outside of the central nervous system. It usually begins in the adrenal glands on top of the kidney, but it can be found anywhere along the spine. Lylah’s was found one day when she was crying from a tummy ache. Her stomach was noticeably swollen, so they took her to the doctor thinking it would be something simple. Little did we know our world was crashing.

Lylah lived at St. Jude for two years. During her time there, she showed more strength than anyone I have ever known. Despite her pain, she complimented everyone she saw. “I like your shoes. I like your dress. Those are pretty nails.” She watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates every day and dreamed of pirate ships and diamonds. When I visited, she loved me to read Eric Carle books to her—Brown Bear, Brown Bear being the one I remember the most. During her two years at St. Jude, my family never received a bill. Doctors and nurses worked tirelessly to make Lylah feel like she was their most important patient—as they do to all of their patients and families. In August of 2015, Lylah reached a point where she was able to go home and make visits back to St. Jude. After a little over two years of living at St. Jude, she was able to see her bedroom again. She was able to see her kitty and play with her toys. She had a moment of peace away from hospitals, doctors, nurses, needles, surgeries, etc. She had a moment to feel like a kid. And then she passed. Without warning, Lylah went to her Neverland on September 15, 2015.

My family now gathers together on the first weekend of December to run in Lylah’s name. In 2015, I decided to run the half marathon—having never ran more than a 5k in my life. Without training (DO NOT DO THIS) I completed the half. I had not properly trained. I had not had a decent amount of water or food intake. I was extremely naïve and stubborn, but I made it. I pushed myself to feel pain I had never felt, reminding myself that the children at St. Jude were in much more pain than I was. The race itself runs right through St. Jude. The kids are outside or at their windows cheering you on. It’s the most inspiring, yet heartbreaking, experience. The second year, Heather ran with me and we did the 5k with my family. While the half was an experience I’ll never forget, the 5k was extremely special. We were able to eat with my family after the race, spending precious time together. These are memories I cherish, and I believe Lylah is looking down and cherishing these moments as well.

Needless to say, I am a bit upset that I am missing Marathon Weekend this year. However, I think that this virtual run can be huge! We have the potential to spread this “in heart and mind” race all over the world! It’s an easy way to make a difference in a child and family’s life, connect with people, and fit in your workout for the day. Will you join us?



Kelsey StacyComment