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Organizers gearing up for 18th annual Run for Jon

PERU In one week, the community is expected to come together once again to honor a young boy whose life was cut drastically short. The 18th annual Run for Jon, a 2.5-mile cross country race, will be held next Saturday, Aug. 23, at Forrence Orchards on Mannix Road. The event is held in remembrance of the late Jonathan Evans, a 13-year-old boy who contracted and died from rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of soft tissue cancer. The Run for Jon originally started as a fundraiser for Jons family, organized by family friends Mark Elmore and Scott Woodward, to help defray the teenagers medical expenses. Our first year, we figured wed have about 50-75 people, said Woodward, who was Jons cross-country track coach at Peru Central School at the time. We ended up with about 150. Jon attended the first event, but passed away during the planning of the second in 1992. It was then Elmore and Woodward asked if they could continue the run in Jons memory. The Jonathan Evans Memorial Fund was established with a mission of helping other families with seriously-ill loved ones in need of financial assistance. The race took on a life of its own, Woodward said. Elmore and Woodward worked together to organize the race year after year, until Elmore moved out-of-state last year, handing the reins over to his friend. Its a responsibility Woodward said he couldnt be happier to shoulder. Weve grown to have about 300-400 participants every year. Were one of the next biggest races in the area next to the Ironman in Lake Placid, Woodward said, beaming with pride. Its a great testament to the people who have supported it and to the people who have been involved with it the Evans family, especially, he continued. Theyre the heart of this. Shirley Evans, Jons mother, said she and her husband, Don, continue to be overwhelmed by the support the run gathers each year. The people in the North Country were really great to us and they continue to be generous, Evans said. Its a really nice thing to keep his memory alive. He was a great kid. The Run for Jon has raised more than $40,000 since it began, said Evans, allowing their family to help others in need. While the money couldnt begin to address medical expenses incurred by families, the fund can help families with a variety of things, she said. Those can range from serious expenses, such as purchasing groceries or paying the electric bill, but she emphasized the money could also be used for something completely fun that a financially-strapped family couldnt do otherwise. We can help with things like ferry tickets and hotel stays, but it doesnt even have to be for expenses like that, she explained. It can be for anything to make things easier on the family. So, maybe, a little extra money would allow you to be able to say yes when one of your other children wants a toy or it would allow your family to go out to the movies something that would just make life a little easier. Why, exactly, should someone participate in an event in memory of someone they may have never even met? The answer is simple, said Woodward. Its an event that reassures you of the many good things in small town America. People chipping in, contributing in small or large ways, to help out a good cause, he said. Its a reaffirmation of the good things in life and to remember a young man who passed a way from cancer, a diseases thats touched every family in America at one point or another. The Run for Jon will begin next Saturday with registration from 3:30-4:45 p.m. The cost to enter is $10 per person, $25 per family and $2 for the Fun Run. Those who wear a Run for Jon T-shirt from past races or those who are participating with a school athletic team, will receive a discount on registration, paying $5 per person or $15 per family. The race will begin at 5 p.m. Those who cannot attend the Run for Jon may send donations in care of The Jonathan Evans Memorial Fund to Donald Evans, 7 Oakdale Drive, Peru N.Y. 12972. For more information, contact Scott Woodward at 834-7583.

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