By ANGIE HAFLICH | ahaflich@gctelegram.com | October 7, 2013

Two hundred eighty-seven runners and walkers participated in the Leave a Legacy 5 and 10k runs Saturday morning at Lee Richardson Zoo.

Race participants honored loved ones who have survived the disease, are currently fighting it or have died from it, while helping the foundation reach this year’s goal of $30,000, which will be used to bring innovative cancer research to southwest Kansas.

In matching T-shirts that said, “Cancer Sucks,” Mike Herrada, his girlfriend Kelly Brewer, his son, Stanton Herrada, along with Dan Doan, Kelsey Hamill, and Jim and Ronda Brewer participated in the event as a team, to show support for three of their loved ones.

“We are running for Braxton Herrada, Bill Brewer and Bob Brewer,” Kelly Brewer said.

Mike Herrada said his son, Braxton, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that originates in the bone, when he was just 15 years old.

“It started in his hip and then it went into his lung and his head,” Kelly Brewer said.

Herrada said that his son endured chemotherapy and radiation treatments in Wichita for a little over a year.

“It just kept coming back. It was fast-moving. Once it gets away from you, it’s kind of hard to keep up, because the more it comes back, the harder it is to treat, especially with not a lot of research out there for it,” he said. “He had enough medicine going through him to knock a horse down and it still wouldn’t kill any pain.”

Braxton died at the age of 16 on Oct. 21, 2010.

He said his son’s death was both a tragedy and a blessing.

“You don’t want to see him suffer like that, especially that young,” he said.

On the Leave a Legacy website, www.whodoyourunfor.org, there is a biography of Braxton, among others, who have fought and died from the disease.

Braxton’s bio says, in part, “He never felt sorry for himself, only for the young children he shared the pediatric floor of the hospital with. … His beautiful, bright smile, his calmness and caring demeanor, and above all, his shoot-from-the-hip sense of humor, kept all of those who knew him, laughing and just happy to be in his presence.”

Bob Brewer, Kelly’s father and Jim Brewer’s brother, is also featured on the website. He fought brain cancer for eight years, before succumbing to the disease on Oct. 6, 2007.

In June, Bill Brewer, Kelly’s uncle and Jim’s other brother, was diagnosed with lung cancer.

“Everything so far, is looking good with him, so we’re just playing it day by day with him,” she said.

She said that her uncle has undergone both chemotherapy and radiation treatment since his diagnosis and that his condition currently appears to be improving.

“It was stage four and now they’ve gotten rid of the stuff in the shoulder and the stuff in the liver,” Jim said.

The team was just one of several teams and individual participants at the event Saturday, where pink Leave a Legacy signs lined the street, honoring loved ones. The starting gun went off at 8:30 a.m. for the 5k race and at 9 a.m. for the 10k race. There was a Kids Fun Run at 10 a.m. and Chris Cakes Pancakes, were provided to participants following the race, which ended at the duck pond at Lee Richardson Zoo.

Participants paid registration fees for the race, proceeds of which go toward expanding cancer-related medical services in southwest Kansas.

According to its website, the Leave a Legacy foundation was created on March 16, 2007, and to date, the organization has provided more than $80,000 to St. Catherine Hospital. In that time, the hospital has used the funds to purchase life-saving equipment to diagnose and treat the residents of southwest Kansas.

This year’s goal of $30,000 will go toward sponsoring the hospital’s membership in the Midwest Cancer Alliance, an alliance that aligns the University of Kansas’ Cancer Center with the Cancer Center in Garden City. This alliance will allow cancer patients in southwest Kansas the opportunity to consult with oncology teams at the University of Kansas Cancer Center and to participate in Phase II and Phase III clinical trials, while staying close to home for treatment.

For more information or to donate to the Leave a Legacy foundation, visit www.whodoyourunfor.org.