A story of Hope and the Firecracker 5K

16 06 2010

An entry fee, a commemorative t-shirt, and another 3.1 miles may be just a race to you but may be much more to someone else.

The following letter was shared with me by Susan Hedgepeth, long-time fan of Fleet Feet Sports and race director of the Firecracker 5K.  When you’re planning your race calendar for the next few weeks, please plan on being at the Racquet Club on the evening of July 3rd for the 12th Annual Firecracker 5k – it’s much more than a race!

A story of Hope~

Mrs. Hedgepeth,

My name is Paula Callender. My daughter Allison is currently a patient at St. Jude. In January I made the typical New Year’s resolutions that we each make but, this year I vowed to only make one. By making one I knew I could keep my focus on that single goal and be proud of myself for achieving it. That single goal was to get back into running and complete a 5K race. Little did I know that in February our lives would be turned upside down. Alli was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma and we moved from small town Louisiana to big city Memphis. Since I’ve been here I’ve tried to get back on track with my running but it’s been difficult.

However, as I walked through the Kay Kafe the other day I noticed the sign for the Firecracker 5K. I stood there a long time, knowing I’m probably not ready and feeling defeated before I even start. But then I began to think about all my baby girl (4 years old) has had to go through I know I would feel like a REAL failure if I didn’t even at least try the race. So after much thought and phone calls to my husband I am ready to race!!

I have absolutely no idea why I thought you needed to hear all this. I suppose that I wanted you to know, along with each person involved in the planning of such an event, how much I appreciate your support of a place like St. Jude. I am continuously amazed by the staff of this wonderful place and the people of Memphis and around the world who give so much of their time and talents for the single benefit of a child like mine. I pray that our paths cross one day so I can shake your hand in person. One things for sure, when you look out into that sea of people on race day know this; one of those women is the mom of Allison Callender.


Paula S. Callender

Susan asked Paula if she could send her letter to Geoff Calkins at the Commercial Appeal and this was her response:

Please feel free to use any information that you can about Alli and her journey. My family and myself will spend the rest of our lives giving back in any way possible to this wonderful place. Our lives have been forever changed because of the vision of a man named Danny Thomas and the fulfillment of his dream in St. Jude.

God’s love and mine,

Paula Callender

May all of your dreams

bloom like daisies in the sun

And may you always have

stars in your eyes

And may you not stop running

until your race is won

And may you always have

blue skies.



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