Prayers for Kayleigh Foundation to hold 5K, fun run Saturday

By Rebekah Martin

Hartselle Enquirer

 

Kayleigh McClendon turned 7 years old the day she was diagnosed with a rare and quickly-progressing brain tumor. Six months and two days later, Kayleigh lost her battle.

In her honor and as a way to raise awareness about the disease as well as raise funds that will help find a cure, the Prayers for Kayleigh Foundation will hold its second annual Prayers for Kayleigh 5K race and Fun Run Saturday beginning at 8 a.m.

Nearly 800 people came out to support the McClendon family at the inaugural race in 2017.

“I run a lot of 5Ks, and you don’t see that around here,” said Shane Alexander, a coach Hartselle Junior High School who is heading up this year’s event.

Kayleigh’s mother, ‘Carrow McClendon, said their hometown came out to support Kayleigh in a huge way, and they just want to give back.

“Once Kayleigh was diagnosed, Hartselle just rallied,” McClendon said. “We would come home from St. Jude’s every weekend, and people were wearing purple, and there were purple bows everywhere.

“The whole point of the foundation is to raise awareness about pediatric cancer,” McClendon explained. “Most of the time, people who have sick kids don’t want to talk about sick kids. People who have lost kids don’t want to talk about losing their kids, and so they’re quiet. I can’t do much, but I can talk, so I’ll do that.

“We’re going to raise awareness and raise funding. We also just want to give back to this town.”

McClendon said the money raised by the race and the Foundation’s other fundraisers will hopefully help other families who face the same diagnosis.

“St. Jude is starting a new trial. There are not many trials … It’s very rare,” she said. “There’s not a lot of research, so we didn’t have any options in the United States. We would have had to go to Mexico, or we were going to have to go to England or Australia. But because hers progressed so fast, we didn’t even have the option.

“We want to have the ability to help families.”

According to her mother, Kayleigh was a “spitfire” who had passion and love for other people despite her struggles. “She was a different bird. Everyone just seemed to gravitate toward her,” McClendon said. “She was so full of spark and spunk and so much fun. That’s what we want. We want that positivity. We want to be able to help people find the good.

“She did more in those seven years than I will ever be able to do for as long as I get to walk this earth. I don’t want to get to Heaven and have Kayleigh look at me and say, ‘That was all you did?’”

Registration for Saturday’s event will remain open online through Friday night.

For more information on cost or to register, visit www.thepfkfoundation.org.

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