My younger daughter came home from school one day in the fall of her 3rd grade year telling us that a classmate, Melana, had something wrong with her brain, somethiong called a tumor. They were friends, so it was important that we helped her understand completely as possible what was happening. It was a rough year for Melana, and about 9 months from the full diagnosis of a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, Melana passed away. She didn't see Christmas as a 4th grader. She was only 9 years old. It was a difficult time for me as a parent to understand and explain to my own kids what happened and why.
When that spring came around, 10 years ago,my daughter told me about a 5k that was being run in Melana's memory and as a fundraiser for childhood cancer research. It was called the Friends of Melana 5k. She asked me to run in it. How could I say no?
Since that fisrt 5k as and adult, I realized hat there was morethat I needed to do to help. It wasn't something that I looked for intentionally, but it found me. I ran the Cleveland Marathon as a fundraiser for Prayers From Maria, the parent organization to the Friends of Melana. Maria battled the same tumor just a year before Melana. The race director of that 5k kept me in her sights and eventually convinced me to be her co-race director. Prayers From Maria occasionally would email a thank you for support letter.
Every year, I keep seeing my kids turning into young adults and realize just how fortunate i am to be watching my kids develop into amazing young adults. Every year, I am drawn more towards the efforts set forth by Maria's and Melana's parents, to help find a treatment, or even a cure for this deadly childhood disease called cancer, especially Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas. Every year, I challenge myself to the diffculties and sacrifices of training for and running a marathon as a way to bring awareness and raise funds for the much needed research. I continue to be co-director of the Friends of Melana 5k for the same reasons.
Please, be generous and help me show the parents with kids battling cancer that they are not alone! As well as a donation, please show me your support by sharing this and asking friends and family to show their support by donating as well! Together, we can make a difference!
Douglas A Paroff