The St. Jude Memphis to Peoria run gets underway with the caravan of motorhomes carrying the 175 runners to Memphis.
This is the 33rd annual fundraiser for the St. Jude Midwest Affliate at the Children's Hospital of Illinois.
A caravan of motorhomes left the St. Jude Run Office near Glen and Sheridan shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday. The runners will arrive in Memphis Tuesday afternoon.
The runners will tour the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis Wednesday morning before an official send off for the 465-mile run back to Peoria.
Nancy Babb of Mackinaw is taking part for the first time.
"Two friends of mine have done the run for nine years," Babb tells 1470 & 100.3 WMBD. "They talked me into a couple of runs and this is the biggest one they talked me into."
"Those kids, those people who can't run, we do it for them. And the money we raise, it goes to them for a good cause."
Run co-founder, Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy, says when the run began in 1982 he was told research would not advance far enough in anyone's lifetime for a St. Jude patient to participate.
Dawn Tanner of Peoria Heights is one of seven former St. Jude patients to participate in this year's event. Tanner was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma at the age of 9.
"I went through a long protocal of chemotherapy and ended up having a bone marrow transplant in 1993 that saved my life," Tanner told fellow runners outside the run office Tuesday.
"I'm so honored to be a part of the run. I can't thank you enough from the bottom of my heart. We're here because of all the work you guys do, all year long and especially this week."
McCoy says the Memphis to Peoria run has made a difference in the battle against childhood cancer.
"When we started this about 4 percent of the kids with cancer were living, on average," McCoy says. "Now it's up over 80 percent and, in some cases, 97 and 98 percent."
This year's run is an anniversary for Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, who is participating in his 20th Memphis to Peoria run.
"It really is one of those events we get an emotional attachment to," Ardis says, "getting the opportunity to drive to Memphis and visit with the kids and their families and talk to the doctors. Every year we hear about the advancements they've made the past year."
"To me, at least, it helps to keep things in perspective," says Ardis. "There are things that are a lot bigger than what we do on a daily basis. It's a good chance to re-prioritize your life and a good chance to thank God if you were fortunate enough to have healthy kids."
The Memphis to Peoria runners return home to the Peoria Civic Center Saturday evening during the start of the St. Jude Telethon on WEEK-TV.
They will be joined by runners participating in 35 satellite runs from various communities Saturday who will meet up with the Memphis to Peoria runners. There are three new satellite runs this year from Metamora, Lewistown and Mackinaw.
A total of 2,200 runners will arrive at the Peoria Civic Center Saturday evening.