The weather was cold and blustery, but that did not deter a large crowd of enthusiastic runners from showing up at the second annual RunTough for ChadTough event at Harvest Elementary School on Saturday morning in Saline.
Over 1,000 individuals were registered to run, nearly twice the number last year. In addition, about 200 volunteers helped to set up the course, register runners, assist runners, cheer, keep time, provide food, sell items for fundraising and many other assignments.
In the summer of 2014, before he was four years old, Chad Carr was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, (DIPG) a rare brain tumor that affects children. His mother, Tammi Carr, along with a group of friends, quickly organized the first run to raise funds for his care.
The money raised this year will be used for research in treating childhood cancer, especially DIPG. According to Race Director Zoe Thompson, a total of around $120,00 was raised through this event.
About $32,500 came from individual donations and $25,000 of this will be matched by a donor organization. The Ted and Jane Von Voitlander Foundation of Howell donated an additional $25,000. Registration fees for the race and proceeds from sales of race-related merchandise made up the remainder of the sum.
Because of the cold, most people huddled inside Harvest School before the race, but all filed outdoors before the 9 a.m. start time.
For the prerace announcements, University of Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins acted as master of ceremonies. She introduced former U-M football coach Lloyd Carr, who is Chad’s grandfather.
“My most important purpose is to say thanks to you,” said Carr. “I’m representing Chad and his family, but what you have done has inspired us, encouraged us, comforted us and we could never repay you for what you’ve done. My greatest hope and prayer is that someday Chad Carr can thank you himself.”
After Carr’s talk, Mike Stack of Applied Fitness Solutions came up to lead the runners in calisthenics. Coach Carr joined Stack in leading the pregame warm-up.
Ariel, Zoe and Eli, a group of singing siblings from the Engelbert family, sang the national anthem. They had previously written an anthem for Chad.
In the meantime, Chad was waiting in the fire engine with his dad Jason Carr. Chad, whose fifth birthday was just a week ago, has been through a lot this past year. That, plus his mom not being in the truck, made him an unhappy camper. Nevertheless, with dad’s help, they pulled the cord setting off the fire truck’s ear-splitting horn and the runners were off.
Since the one mile, the 5K and the 10K races all began together, it was a strange start. While some dashed ahead for position others proceeded at a leisurely stroll.
Of the 1028 registered runners, about 300 signed up for the 5K and 40 for the 10K. This means that about two thirds of the runners did the untimed mile.
Eric Pear of Saline finished the 5K in 17:22, more than two and a half minutes ahead of the second place finisher. The second place finisher was William Stacey of Saline and third place was 12-year-old Matt Rudd of Ann Arbor.
The top finisher in the 10K was Dan Robertson of Saline with a time of 36:41. The second place finisher overall and first woman was Laurel Park of Ann Arbor with a time of 37:16. Park is a master class runner who lives in Lloyd Carr’s neighborhood.
While the timed races were going on, one-mile run/walk participants were arriving back at the school and enjoying treats inside. Outside, children enjoyed making monster bubbles.
Though the community has been strongly behind this event, it could not have happened without the determination of Chad’s parents and the group of about 10 moms who helped coordinate all the details.
“Tammy and Jason want to cure cancer,” said Thompson. “If anyone can do it, Tammy Carr can.”