The second annual Trojan Heroes Among Us Jog-a-thon to fight cancer will take place Friday evening. The event will be held at the Jenks High School track from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and will serve as a fundraiser for cancer research at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
The jog-a-thon is the brainchild of two Jenks East Intermediate School classmates, Katie Brownlee and Julia Dittus, both of whom lost their fathers to cancer. Dr. Greg Brownlee, an optometrist with a practice in Tulsa, died from a rare brain tumor in October 2002. Mitch Dittus, the long-time executive director of the Tulsa Street School, succumbed to cancer in February 2003.
“When Julia lost her father, Katie wanted to do something special for her,” said Katie’s mother, Karen Brownlee. The two girls, then both fifth graders, came up with the idea of doing a class jog-a-thon to raise money for cancer research. When word about the event started spreading, Jenks East Intermediate principal Jeff Wright decided the entire school should participate.
After visiting the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City, where Katie remembered that many memorial gifts had been made in her father’s honor, Katie and Julia chose to donate all proceeds from the event to cancer research at OMRF. “Our reason for choosing OMRF was that 100 percent of what the kids raise will go to research,” said Karen Brownlee. “It all stays here in Oklahoma, but it benefits people all over the world.
Last year’s jog-a-thon drew 175 participants and raised $5,000. This year, participation has expanded to all Jenks elementary and intermediate schools. With almost 600 people pre-registered, this year’s jog-a-thon has already raised in excess of $10,000.
“Katie and Julia have taken terrible personal tragedies and transformed them into a way of helping people everywhere,” said OMRF President J. Donald Capra, M.D. “I can’t imagine any greater generosity.”
Registration for the jog-a-thon will be available the evening of the event. A one-mile walk/jog will begin at 6:30, and a three-mile walk/jog at 7:00. Neither event will be timed. The Jenks High School JV pom squad, which includes Katie’s older sister, Alexis, will offer face-painting, a Jupiter jump and other children’s activities. Food and beverages will also be available, with all proceeds from sales to benefit cancer research at OMRF.
After the event, donations can be made to OMRF care of the Jenks East Intermediate School, 205 East B Street, Jenks, OK 74037, attention: Trojan Heroes.
OMRF (www.omrf.org) is a nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and curing human disease. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease. OMRF is home to Oklahoma’s only Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and only member of the National Academy of Sciences in the area of biomedical research.