QUINCY -- Becky Haskins wants this year to be big for the Quincy to Peoria St. Jude Run.
"This year is the 15th year for the run, so we're wanting to grow our run and get more people involved," said Haskins, who is in her second year as run coordinator and fifth year involved in the event. "The more money we can present to St. Jude in August in Peoria, the better."
A 2019 run kickoff, held Thursday night at BoodaLu Steakhouse, had Haskins encouraging a crowd of veteran and first-time participants to do their best to do more this year.
"People have already started raising money, and some runners have hit their minimum, the $1,000 minimum, but don't stop there," Haskins said. "If you are thinking about it, or if it's something you are going to do, get registered as soon as possible to get started on the fundraising aspect."
The run will take place Aug. 2 and 3, with anywhere from 70 to 100 runners and volunteers making the 24-hour, 135-mile journey to Peoria.
Since 2005, the Quincy Run has raised $1,163,547 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
April Sinnock of Quincy said, "It's for the kids, so the parents don't have to worry about the bills. They can just focus on their child."
She and a friend, Patti Mellon, have participated in the run for several years, raising money through bake sales and raffles. While they admit the idea of raising the $1,000 minimum may be daunting at first, "it's really not that hard, especially for St. Jude," Sinnock said.
And the idea of running shouldn't deter people from getting involved.
Mellon said, "It's not a running event. It's a fundraising event."
Ginny Helmer of Quincy said, "I'm here to learn more." She has a good friend who has done the run for several years. "I've never done it before, but I thought maybe I would run with her."
Caden Miller, a first-time runner last year from Golden, talked about overcoming the fears he had about participating in the event – and its rewards.
"I had started running. I was running so many miles a week, a month, and I wasn't doing it for anyone except myself," he said. "That's why I wanted to do St. Jude's. I wanted to give back."
For Jill Libert, a development specialist based in Peoria for St. Jude, it was amazing to see the support for the Quincy run.
"It is very heartwarming to see all these people come together to devote so much time and energy to the kids of St. Jude," Libert said. "We're so grateful for the outpouring of support and just pure selflessness."
Like so many of the participants, Haskins said she runs for the kids.
"Outside of major holidays and my own kids' birthdays, run weekend is my favorite weekend. I just love everything about St. Jude and the kids," Haskins said. "Whether as coordinator or not, I will be back every year in some capacity."