MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thousands of runners are beginning to arrive in Memphis for this weekend’s St. Jude Marathon, including one family that has suffered a heartbreaking loss.
You may remember the story of 15-year-old St. Jude patient Alexis Bezilla, who passed away just days after her memorable visit to the Bluff City Law set this past summer.
“This weekend is the marathon, so we’re coming back to Memphis. We’re excited to be back,” said Alexis’ mother, who spoke to us via phone Wednesday.
The family will be coming to Memphis on Friday.
The St. Jude Marathon is the largest single day fundraiser for the hospital. They hope to raise $12 million in one day.
“But I hope we’ll all see this as an absolutely fantastic weekend for the city of Memphis. We’ll have over 26,000 runners from all 50 states, said ALSAC Chief Marketing and Experience Officer Emily Callahan.
ALSAC is the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Last year Alexis was at the marathon. However, this year much of her extended family will be running in her memory, including her 80-year-old grandfather who won his division last year.
Their entire family has raised about $30,000 this year. Alexis’ mom, April Bezilla, says she hopes some of the money will go towards the teen program at St. Jude.
“One of her challenges through treatment she always felt like she was the girl with chemo or cancer so she felt like no one saw her for who she was,” said April Bezilla. “The teen program gave her that.”
The Bezillas say one of Alexis' final wishes was to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. They say they can’t way to get back to their home away from home.
“In a weird way we've missed it. We miss St. Jude,” said Brad Bezilla.
Callahan says over the years St. Jude Children's Research Hospital marathon has raised about 80 million dollars.
This year 7,000 “St. Jude Heroes,” who are designated fundraisers for the race, will add to that figure this Saturday.
For more information about the St. Jude Memphis Marathon weekend, click here.