An angel will join Christmas Without Cancer (CWC) Founder Gerri Neylon at this year’s CWC run/walk to support families dealing with cancer’s cruel challenges.
The fifth annual Christmas Without Cancer 5K on Saturday, Sept. 21, will honor Matt Hooker, who walked symbolically last year hand in hand with his family and into the hearts of many who knew the young father so well before he succumb to cancer earlier this year.
“Matt Hooker’s memory has inspired many people to sign up for the very first time,” said Neylon. “This gives us hope that our best turnout yet will result in the most families helped to date.”
Hooker’s plight was such a personal mission to survive, beat cancer and raise his family that others jumped in like street fighters. In for the battle was Neylon and her Christmas With Cancer volunteers who would arrive to pay bills so the Hooker family “could embrace the Christmas season with each other.”
Pay It Forward
Matt’s brother, Jeff Hooker, decided to “pay it forward” for others.
On Aug. 17, 2017, Jeff led a group of young musicians who requested that the Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association join them in supporting Christmas Without Cancer. Taking to a makeshift stage in Beverly Park, the rock performers solicited donations, both as tribute to a friend cared for and to provide needed funding for upcoming fundraising events such as the CWC 5K.
Matt Hooker ran that 2017 event with friends, despite the cancer’s challenge to his system and strength.
The “Late Start Band” required the business association issue the band’s appearance fee check to Christmas Without Cancer. Many in the audience understood the gesture and applauded, as if to acknowledge cancer’s encroachment on everyone’s family in recent years.
It was evident that those in attendance knew of Christmas Without Cancer’s mission because shortly after the guitar case was placed in the front of the stage, the case was filled with coins and bills
Saint Xavier University
That same year, the Saint Xavier University football team championed the cause as well with a logical community tie-in.
Again this year, the Saint Xavier University Department of Athletics is inviting all CWC 5K participants to stick around and enjoy free admission to the 1 p.m. SXU football game against the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Participants will be admitted free to the home opener with their race bib from the CWC walk/run.
Participants are invited to tailgate in the university parking lot west of the Shannon Center at 3700 W. 103rd St.
The annual CWC 5K run/walk launches another “season of giving” at Circle Park, 3450 W. 97th St., in Evergreen Park, to benefit families faced with cancer challenges this coming holiday season.
Race registration includes the following: T-shirt, CWC race medal and chipped timing on a beautiful flat course.
Packet pick up will be at Wintrust Community Bank First National Bank of Evergreen Park, 95th Street and Pulaski Road, on Wednesday, Sept. 18, from 3 to 6 p.m., and on Thursday, Sept. 19, from 3 to 7 p.m.
Day-of-race registration and race packet pickup will begin at 7 a.m. and run until 8:30 a.m.
For more information on sponsorships or to make a donation, visit the website at christmaswithoutcancer.org.