On Saturday, Aug. 26, hundreds of children battling cancer and serious blood disorders, survivors and families who are honoring loved ones who have passed participated in the annual Torch Run, to help raise funds for expanded treatment programs and research at the Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Institute at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.
Participants triumphantly carried an Olympic-style torch in an unforgettable relay around Long Beach’s iconic Lion’s Lighthouse for Sight at the Shoreline Aquatic Park. The crowd, filled with sponsors, community supporters, and volunteers, erupted in cheers and applause when runners’ names were called, building up the excitement in the air for the first in-person Torch Run since 2019.
“It’s such an amazing, and at the same time, overwhelming feeling to be together again doing the Torch Run in person after four years,” says Jacqueline Casillas, M.D., medical director, Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute, MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. “Our patients continue to inspire us every day, and feeling the support coming from the parents, families, friends, supporters, and the whole care team makes this truly a family event.”
Whether it was a former patient celebrating seven years of remission or a current patient celebrating the completion of their first year of treatment, each runner led their team of supporters in style with posters, banners, and colorful attire. After all the patients and supporters completed their runs, families and friends enjoyed a wonderful picnic and carnival by the ocean. Those in attendance also signed Ribbons of Hope cards, special cards of support that will be distributed to the patients of the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute after Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
For some families and patients, this was the first time they experienced the Torch Run in person. Many others, however, could not wait to return to the lighthouse. Some supporters, such as the family and friends of Matt Johnson, have been participating in the Torch Run for years, coming back each year to reunite with the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute Care team.
“The first time we did the Torch Run was in 1999 and it means so much for us to keep coming back and supporting Jonathan Jaques, the care team and other patients,” says Thais Johnson, mother of Matt Johnson. “Unfortunately, Matt has passed, but it’s so meaningful to know that his legacy and memory continues to inspire and support patients and families of the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute for 25 years.”
The Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute provides quality, compassionate care to children with cancer, sickle cell disease and other serious blood disorders. The funds raised by the Torch Run go towards supporting the psychosocial support programs, including a School Integration Program and Art Therapy, that are woven throughout care plans, ensuring that patients and families learn to cope with all aspects of childhood cancer.
Support the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute by making a donation.