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Local runner to help raise St. Jude funds

<p>Brayden Shields</p>

Brayden Shields

Van Buren businessman Jim Petty is helping to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis by participating in a Dec. 7 marathon.

Petty has joined the team for Brayden Shields of Van Buren, who in June 2010 was diagnosed with advanced bilateral retinoblastoma and is fighting cancerous tumors in both eyes at St. Jude.

The “Fight Like Brayden” team will support St. Jude’s lifesaving mission of finding cures and saving children, Petty said.

“As most of you know, I am passionate about kids and want to do my part,” Petty said. “I need your support to help my fundraising goal for the kids of St. Jude.”

Petty has set a goal of $1,500 “although the competitor in me wants to make the top 10 in online fundraising,” he said.

Brayden has gone through almost 10 months of chemotherapy and with retinoblastoma he stands a very high chance of having secondary cancers for the rest of his life, Brayden’s mother Misty Shields said.

Bilateral rentinoblastoma are tumors in both eyes. Brayden started with three tumors in his left eye and two tumors in his right eye.

“Brayden now has too many tumors to count well over 60, including seeds, in his eyes all together since we’ve started,” his mother said. “Brayden had to eventually have radioactive plaques placed in both eyes. He struggled to bounce back and had more pain and discomfort than usual but our checkups post plaque have been stable.”

That’s the good news, she said.

“The bad news is unfortunately his cancer has shown to be aggressive and they told us one more tumor in that area of the right eye we’re going to have to have it removed,” Misty Shields said. “That’s not our plan. He hasn’t been through all this to just give his eye or eyes up to cancer. So we pray and we march forward. Why? Because we Fight Like Brayden.”

Petty said there are many stories like Brayden’s.

“But there is hope,” Petty said. “St. Jude is a such a tremendous asset to our area. However, It costs $1.8 million a day to operate St. Jude. Seventy percent of the funds come from the public. That means your donation, no matter what the size, will help.”

How donations help:

• No family ever pays St. Jude for anything, including lodging, food and travel.

• St. Jude will continue to improve treatment of childhood cancer and other deadly diseases through its groundbreaking research.

• For every child treated at St. Jude, thousands more have been saved worldwide through St. Jude discoveries.

Petty said he began running about two years ago to “lose a little weight and become a little more healthy.”

“I made some choices over which I had control to improve my health,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are many kids that have absolutely no control over the life-altering cancer, disease or other tragic circumstances that just show up without warning … without being invited.”

Petty said he needs the community’s support in helping the children at St. Jude.

“I will do my best to not let you down on race day when we take our victory lap of 26.2 miles,” he said. “Together we will also help St. Jude move many of these kids at St. Jude that much closer to their victory lap.”

Online donations may be made at Petty’s personal page: http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=2239563&pg=person....

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