Hoops for Life 5K event brings about 300 runners to Kiwanis Park

Sunday, July 25, 2010
Kevin Hammes, right, was the overall winner of male runners with a time of 18:38 in the Hoops for Life 5K Run at Kiwanis Park in Cape Girardeau oon Saturday. Celebrating his second-place finish was Brandon Shemonia, left. The event raised more than $5,000 for children's brain cancer research. (Melissa Miller)

About 300 people ran through Kiwanis Park on Saturday to raise money for children's cancer research on what would have been Sahara Aldridge's 16th birthday.

The Hoops for Life 5K Run raised about $5,000 in honor of Aldridge, whose nickname was "Hoops" and who died in 2007 at age 13 after battling brain stem cancer for 17 months.

"We don't want another set of parents to go through what we went through, or another child to suffer the way Sahara did," said her father and run organizer Shannon Aldridge. Sahara loved basketball, so he wore her jersey Saturday with name "Miss Hoops" printed on the back as he cheered on runners at the finish line.

The proceeds from the run will go directly to the Pediatric Glioma Research Program at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., a facility where Sahara Aldridge was treated.

"They are doing amazing research there, even using a tumor to kill a tumor," Shannon Aldridge said. "Of all the doctors we talked to, they were the only ones who were willing to operate. They took out 75 percent of her tumor, but for her, unfortunately, it was too late."

Many runners taking part in Saturday's run in Sahara Aldridge's memory were inspired by her story to compete. Others had family and friends who fought their own battles with cancer.

"I have a family member who suffered something similar," said Tracy Metzger of Cape Girardeau. She used to race regularly, but the event Saturday was her first competition in six years. "I wanted to be here to support the cause."

Organizing a run came naturally to Shannon Aldridge, who himself is a competitive runner and belongs to both the Cape Girardeau Road Runners Club and the Ghisallo Running organization. Both groups helped put on Saturday's event.

Cassie Kipper, who works with Shannon Aldridge at Fitness Plus, said he challenged her to come out an win Saturday's race for Sahara. Kipper finished first among the female participants with a time of 21:30.

"He comes to my core training class every week where I challenge him. I had to step up to his challenge," Kipper said.

Kevin Hammes finished first among the male runners with a time of 18:38.

Shannon Aldridge said he plans to make the Hoops for Life 5K an annual event and has plans to make next year's run bigger and better.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent Address:

2100 Rotary Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO

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