MILLEDGEVILLE — Childhood cancer sneaks up on boys and girls before they really get their lives started. Wanda Aldridge knows four children diagnosed with cancer, two of which are relatives.
She decided to use running to attack the problem last November.
Aldridge will compete in the Publix Georgia Marathon & Half Marathon March 17 in support of the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research.
At 70 years and 10 months old at race day, Aldridge’s race goals are to finish the 13.1-mile trek starting and ending in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, as well as beat at least one person, preferably male.
The larger goal nearly met is raising $6,000 for childhood cancer research. Aldridge has $5,895 through March 4.
She is running on Team Brooks in honor of Brooks House, who was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma at 6 years old. The three others on Team Brooks include Jim Aldridge who contracted brain cancer at 7 and is still getting treatment at 13, Abram Gainous, son of local basketball coaches, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at 2 years old, and Jim’s older sister Lauren who succumbed to brain cancer 10 years ago.
“I’ve been concerned with the issue for more than 10 years,” Aldridge said. “There is less money given to childhood cancer. It’s just not supported as well.”
Ninety-three percent of the Rally funds go directly to childhood cancer research.
Aldridge started running on her 55th birthday for health reasons. The doctor was close to prescribing cholesterol medicine before the new hobby lowered her numbers from 254 to 176 after just six weeks of exercise.
“I guess I’m a little hard headed,” she said. “I was running for my health because I didn’t want to take medicine.”
Aldridge has three 10k’s finished, running her age every time. Children connected with the House family encouraged the half marathon.