In Wilkes-Barre this Sunday morning, it’ll be runners and walkers taking to the streets before the St. Patricks Parade kicks off.
Renal Race 3 kicks off on Public Square. Last year, some 600 people came out to walk or run, something organizer Erin Pikul of Wilkes-Barre never thought she’d see when she first started the race three years ago.
“I thought- we’ll come down to the square, we’ll walk around it three times- it was sort of a joke. I didn’t think anyone would come,” she remembers.
They did- and now Erin is busy planning Renal Race 3, which she started in honor of her husband Frank, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer on New Years Eve of 2010.
“It was a bit of a shock, specifically because kidney cancer is for men typically in their 60′s. His diagnosis came when he was just 37,” Erin told us.
It was a stage 3 diagnosis, when their son Jaxon was just 18 months old. Frank underwent surgery to remove the kidney and the tumor, has responded well to medication ever since, and these days is feeling great.
To date, the Pikuls have donated almost $50,000 from the annual race to kidney cancer research, locally and otherwise.
The Renal Race 3 starts with registration at 7am. The race begins at 9am on Public Square. You can choose a 5k run or a 1-mile walk. Genetti’s donated a ballroom to be the event’s headquarters and for a party after the race featuring a DJ, face painting, and giveaways. If you haven’t already, you can sign up the day of the race.
Erin says she’s excited to see how big the crowd can be this year, and excited to show her son the meaning behind it all.
“Something little like running for 20 minutes can raise all of that money, and teach a 4-year-old you can give somebody a second chance,” she said.