Running for Ava

UPDATE: Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of everyone, we have already exceeded our goal. After talking with Allison, we’ll continue to raise money, and all the extra donations will be put toward helping the children and families affected by Wilms’ Tumor. I can’t thank each and every one of you enough. And let’s continue to help fight this terrible disease.

So far, this running thing has been mostly about me. Something for me to cross off a list of life goals. And while I’ve done everything I can to eliminate the excuses and ramp up the motivation, there’s one thing that will surely help me finish what I’ve started – making this about someone else.

Allison and I worked together in college, and she is one of the kindest and most interesting people I’ve had the privilege of claiming as a friend. Maybe it’s the humbleness that comes from her Appalachian roots. Or her ability to tell a world of stories with photography. Or it could just be the friendly smile and warm hug that she gives to everyone she encounters. At any rate, she’s what you would call a good person.

In the years since I moved away from Lexington, Allison and I have kept in touch here and there, but we haven’t seen each other all that often. In 2007 Allison had a daughter, Ava, who became her world. So it was no surprise that when tragedy struck in 2010, both of their worlds were turned upside down.

Last year, Ava was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumor, a type of kidney cancer that occurs most commonly in children. For the past year, Allison and Ava have been in and out of the hospital, seeing all kinds of oncologists, pediatricians and the lot. Ava underwent one round of chemotherapy and radiation in 2011, but after scans returned some abnormalities, she’s currently undergoing more aggressive treatment.

Recently, I had the opportunity to volunteer for the annual Holiday Store from Jarrett’s Joy Cart. Before our trip to Lexington, I noticed on Allison’s Facebook page that she and Ava were having a week-long treatment at University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital, where I would be volunteering. After we’d finished helping out, my friend Seth and I stopped by to visit Allison and meet Ava for the first time.

That little girl melted my heart. After everything she’s been through, she still had the innocence and precociousness you would expect out of a sweet little four-year old girl. In fact, save for her cropped hair, you wouldn’t know this child was affected by anything other than a little too much sugar.

So that’s where this journey starts down a new path. I’m raising funds for Allison and Ava through my training. And I’m asking you to help. I’ve set an aggressive goal – $1200 – to raise before the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon on April 28, 2011.

Every little bit helps, so even if you just have $5 to give, I urge you to make a contribution.

Thanks, everyone.


Let's fight Wilms - Donate with WePay

Allison has been documenting their own journey at her blog, Document of Courage. All photos courtesy of Allison May Photography.


5 responses to “Running for Ava

  1. I have met Ava and Allison. My son Dylan has the same type of kidney cancer and we met through mutual friends. This is a beautiful thing you are doing and could not be more important to this family. We all need to do all we can to raise awareness and stop these childhood cancer. I have no doubt that you will exceed your goal. God be with you, Ava and every sick child.

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