QUINCY — Getting ready to set off on his 11th St. Jude Run, Clifton Anders recalled being inspired to run his first run after going through treatment following a prostate cancer diagnosis 14 years ago.
“I saw the commercials with the St. Jude kids on there,” Anders said, “and I told myself, ‘If they can pull through this, then I can pull through this.’ So I’m running for all those kids.”
Anders and other runners set off Friday on their 135-mile, 24-hour relay run to raise money for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The 17th installment of the Quincy-to-Peoria St. Jude Run was joined by runners from Hannibal before they began the trek north. The run is expected to hit Peoria around 3 p.m. Saturday for the hospital’s telethon from the Peoria Civic Center.
Run coordinator Becky Haskins said she was feeling confident about this year’s fundraising efforts, though the final total won’t be known until Saturday.
“We had some new sponsors and some new donors this year that we haven’t had before,” Haskins said.
From the previous runs, the Quincy group has raised just under $1.4 million for St. Jude. The unofficial goal this year was to collect enough to cross the $1.5 million threshold.
Along with the fundraising, the Quincy run is honoring the memory of Becky Meehan. Meehan was a long-time supporter of the event, which was started by her husband Rick and her brother-in-law Randy in 2005. Becky Meehan lost her own battle with cancer in February.
“Friends of hers, classmates, they went out and raised money in memory of (Becky),” Haskins said. “That’s helped us on our goal.”
Anders, now cancer-free, said he doesn’t really have a set plan in mind for how many miles of the trip he’ll run. He plans to jump out when he feels the urge to run a while.
“I keep in mind that this is for the kids,” he said. “And then I’m just having some fun on top of that.”
“We love this,” Haskins said. “We’re so excited to be back. We missed it last year, and this is just a big family, so this year is our reunion. Some of the runners, we haven’t seen since 2019. So we’re excited to have this opportunity to get back together and run to Peoria.”
The St. Jude Peoria Telethon can be viewed online at week.com starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.