On Saturday, June 8, 300 children battling cancer and serious blood diseases and survivors teamed up with families, volunteers, sponsors, community supporters and celebrities for the 2019 “Champions Run for Life” also known as the Torch Run.
Together, they raised funds to support more than 800 patients and families each year at the Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Institute at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. The proceeds go towards providing research and programs including psychosocial care, school re-integration, art-therapy and child life.
Current patients and survivors triumphantly carried a symbolic Olympic-style torch in an unforgettable relay around Long Beach’s iconic lighthouse. The crowd erupted in cheers and applause when runners’ names were called. Then it was off to the races when the announcer shouted, “Go!”
Each runner led their team of supporters in style with posters, banners, colorful attire and, in some cases, their dogs. Some celebrities who joined the fun were Nev Scharrel (‘Agnes,’ supervillain Gru’s adorable daughter, who loves fluffy unicorns from “Despicable Me 3”), Allen Maldonado (ABC’s Black-ish and TBS’ The Last O.G.) and Lance Zeno and Jim Weatherly (NFL Alumni).
For patients, family members and friends, it was a special occasion to honor a loved one affected by cancer or serious blood disorders and meet patients and families with similar journeys.
Whether it was a former patient celebrating seven years of remission or a current patient celebrating completing their first year of treatment, they have probably come across Ramesh Patel, M.D., a pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute, who joined the Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital team in 1989.
“This year’s event is dedicated to all children with cancer or serious blood diseases. We want every child diagnosed with serious diseases to succeed, so they can live their life free of disease,” said Dr. Patel. “Today’s event symbolizes every child affected by cancer and serious blood diseases who embark on a journey of treatment to the finish line—the ultimate cure.”
Joining Dr. Patel were other physicians and care team members from Miller Children’s & Women’s who ran with their patients, stopped to give them high-fives and awarded them medals at the end.
As everyone watched the runners push past their diagnoses and make their way to the finish line from the sidelines, it was easy to see why these children are champions.
Family and friends celebrate a patient of Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute all the way to the finish line in annual Torch Run.
Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute patient, Adam, 4-years-old, is welcomed at the finish line with high-fives and a medal!
Judith, a patient of Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute, celebrates with her team after completing her celebratory lap.
Laurel Truscott, M.D., a pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute, awarding a runner with their medal after crossing the finish line.