Often expressed as one of the most touching half marathons, the annual St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon is 13.1 miles and attracts thousands of runners every year. This year alone, the event attracted 26,000 people and raised more than $11 million with 100% of the proceeds donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Shortly before registration opened for the half marathon, Jessica Adams thought about doing a run for charity. One of her colleagues heard details about the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon on the radio, and Jessica thought it sounded like a great idea. Though she never dreamed of running in a race like the St. Jude half marathon, she thought of how the race helped so many children suffering from serious illness. She was also reminded of her work colleagues who have been affected by cancer. If there was a crazy reason to run in a long distance race, she couldn’t have picked a better cause.
Jessica decided to register to run in the half marathon and wanted to form a team to run with her, and presented the idea to her work colleagues. Though most were not runners and had never run in a half marathon, they were inspired by an employee’s cousin who has an extremely rare blood disorder and received treatment from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. By the time registration opened, 15 out of the 28 people who work at Lake Chem Community Federal Credit Union joined Jessica’s team!
“This was a completely new experience for most of us. Once everyone got their head wrapped around the 13 miles, everything else fell into place,” says Jessica Adams.
While some of Jessica’s team members trained heavily for the race, others took their chances with little training. Jessica and some of the other runners from Lake Chem Community Federal Credit Union started training in August to build up mileage and endurance. They ran whenever they had time— before work, after work and over the weekend.
The ladies took a weekend road trip to Memphis and prepped to run Saturday morning for the race. The race began on a beautiful morning at 9 a.m. and most of the Lake Chem Community Federal Credit Union team members ran past the finish line within three and four hours and raised $3,408.21 for St. Jude Children Research Hospital.
Jessica admits that about six miles into the race, the pain started setting in. But it was the kids that kept her team pushing on. Whenever she and her team members felt like quitting, they remembered the kids who were going through so much more than any of the runners at that moment. It was that thought that drove them all to the finish line.
Thousands of runners started on Monroe Street in downtown Memphis and ran past memorable downtown Memphis landmarks including the most emotional part of the race— the gardens at St. Jude.
“I had to stop and take it all in when we ran past the gardens. It was very emotional! Runners were crying and stopping to give the kids hi-fives. I could see the genuine happiness on the kid’s faces. The whole experience was just amazing.”
As Jessica recalls the race, she remembers that there were so many people supporting and encouraging the runners. Several people on the sidelines held signs with words of encouragement about how they were affected by St. Judes—whether themselves, a daughter or a grandson. In Jessica’s own words, “it was a total outpouring of love and support from the community in Memphis.”