A few years back, Chris and Cassie Busby heard the words straight out of every parent’s nightmare — “your child has cancer.” Their son, Chase, was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2015 and began treatment at Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville.
While they continued to support their boy, they also looked for ways to aid the hospital that was helping him through his ordeal.
One of the things they found was a race called Wolfson’s Children’s Challenge, which they discovered through Busby’s business partner at Live Oaks Fitness on St. Simons Island.
“Charley and Brianna Young actually told us about the race. We thought it would be a cool idea and something that was fun to do,” Busby said.
They formed a group to participate in the fundraiser, raking in $6,500 the first year. They joined in the 55-kilometer Ultra Relay, passing the baton between a number of members to cover the distance.
The Challenge also includes distances for experienced long-distance, solo runners — the 55-kilometer, Ultramarathon — or 30-kilometer individual run. Kids or beginner runners who want to give back to Wolfson Children’s can choose the 1-mile Fun Run.
“We had a ton of fun and have been doing it ever since,” Busby said.
Over that time, Chase beat leukemia and has grown into a happy, healthy 7-year-old. The family has also been able to focus on raising money for the cause, which goes directly to the hospital’s capital campaign.
“The best thing about it is that it is all stuff you can put your hands on. Chase was in a MRI machine that was purchased through Wolfson’s Children’s Challenge,” Busby said.
Last year, the funds were put toward other projects to the oncology floor.
“This year, the money raised will go toward funding a MIBG room on the oncology floor. During MIBG therapy, children receive high doses of radiation and are radioactive for a period of time after the therapy. This cuts them off from parents and siblings during the treatment,” Busby said.
“The MIBG room will give children a place to recover from the therapy and still be close to their family. Currently, the closest hospital with these services is in Atlanta.”
He and his team is ready to do their part to make this a reality.
“We’ve had different teams and individuals doing different mileage. Our solo runners are Mandy McNeese (55K solo runner) and Jeff Roberts (30K solo runner).”
Roberts has won the race two out of the three times he has participated. But adults, children get involved too.
“We have even had a team comprised of middle and elementary school kids. Chase ran last year and he’s 7. He was one of our youngest runners,” Busby said.
Chase was also an honoree and representative of the oncology floor during a previous challenge.
In addition to Chase, there have been many other young reps from the area including Ansely Jones and Marjorie Dempsey, who have been honored as Wolfson 55 Children.
Busby and the team are hoping to make these kids proud again this year.
The 2020 Wolfson’s Challenge will be held on Jan. 25 and they are currently raising funds to support the cause.
“You never want to have to go to a children’s hospital but if you need one, you want the best. We’re really lucky and blessed to have one of the best in the nation so close by,” Busby said.
To donate to Live Oak Fitness’ efforts visit their Facebook page.
For more information about the challenge, go to www.wolfsonchildrenschallenge.com