Susie’s Run

Susie’s Run

From A 4th Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Susie’s Run

When you believe you can—you can!

Maxwell Maltz

In parenthood, we learn as much from our children as they do from us. They remind us of a time when we were full of ideas and hope, before we learned to doubt ourselves or see obstacles in our path.

Our daughter Susie was in the fifth grade when she faced her first lessons about life and death and compassion. Her classmate Jeff was diagnosed with leukemia. Besides missing a lot of school, Jeff grew weak and lost his hair. While some of the children reacted with rejection or ridicule, Susie chose caring, and she and Jeff became special friends.

During a period of remission, Susie and Jeff spent all their time together playing, studying and talking. They even participated in a couple of 5K races together, and the two became inseparable.

So it was a horrible blow to our daughter when the leukemia prevailed, the sickness returned, and her best friend slipped away. That’s when our remarkable daughter showed us the best of her creativity and strength—and reminded us about the power of belief.

Susie wanted to do something that would help people remember Jeff. Since in health he had enjoyed running, she decided on a Jeff Castro Memorial Run, with the proceeds going to the Leukemia Society. When she came to us with her idea, we were proud and moved, but cautious. We knew that Susie had no concept of the magnitude of such a task, nor did she have the experience and knowledge to make it happen. We certainly didn’t know how to organize a fund-raising run, so we listened and let the idea drop. Little did we know that Susie would keep try- ing until she found someone willing to help her.

Without telling us, Susie approached her teachers. They praised her for the idea, but they, too, explained why it wouldn’t work. Besides all the time and effort involved, they told her, she would need the proper contacts and a tremendous amount of sponsorship money. They suggested a small jump-a-th on instead. Susie listened, said nothing, and moved along her way.

You can imagine our bewilderment when, a couple of weeks later, we started getting phone calls at home from Pepsi-Cola, Coors and other companies asking for Susie. They’d been contacted about sponsoring a run and needed more details. At this point, we knew our daughter had taken charge of her dream and we certainly weren’t going to stand in the way. There was going to be a run— and we were going to take an active role in helping.

After months of planning, coordination and fund-raising, the Jeff Castro Run for Leukemia took place. And was it a success? You bet! Over $20,000 was raised, with half covering the expenses and a check of $10,000 proudly handed over to the Leukemia Society. All because a little girl who loved a little boy had a vision that no one could change.

Thomas R. Overton

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