Lights for Leah: Starry Night 5K

November 14, 2017

Hundreds of runners stood at the starting line eager to raise money and awareness for pediatric brain tumors at Piedmont Park on November 4. The event was to benefit Starry Night 5K, which holds similar charity events all over the country.

The goal of the event is to help fund the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation in the fight against this terrible childhood cancer. Starry Night requests donations from participants in the 5K in addition to allowing commercial sponsors to raise money for the event.

In the U.S., there are currently 28,000 children that are living with brain tumors: the deadliest form of childhood cancer. The goal of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation is to “eliminate the challenges of childhood brain tumors by funding cutting-edge medical research and providing support services to children and families during their cancer journey.”

While the annual event was originally an  8.5K walk and run, it has since been changed to a 5K in order to include a greater number of participants. The event’s website states, “3.1 miles is a more accessible distance for walkers, teams and families and appeals to runners of all skill levels.”

Additionally, at the event, there was a 50 yard dash for children, which makes the event more kid-friendly. After completing the race, participants were able to enjoy eating at different food stations set up around the Promenade at Piedmont Park. Once it was dark out, the participants who donated $100 or more then proceeded to light up the sky with lanterns. The remarkable ceremony signifies hope for the cure and shines a light on those who have been affected by pediatric brain tumors.

Leah Cohen, a Weber junior, has personally been affected by a brain tumor. At the Starry Night event, Cohen had a team called “Lights for Leah,” which was one of the largest teams at the event that had around 100 people who came to support and run for her. Five Weber students along with social studies teacher Dr. Rachel Rothstein showed up to support and participate on Cohen’s team. Both the students and teacher enjoyed the event and were happy to be a part of Leah’s team.

Sam Bronfman, a junior who ran on Cohen’s team, said, “I had a great time supporting a Weber student and good friend while also raising awareness for pediatric brain tumors.”

Sophie Harris, also a junior, concurred, “It was so nice to go and support an amazing cause for an amazing friend with amazing people. It was definitely an event I won’t forget.”

A third junior, Evan Blum, said, “Seeing a large group of people come together to push their bodies to the limit in order to support a worthy cause was a great feeling.”

Dr. Rothstein stated, “The event was a great way to raise awareness about pediatric brain tumors, the research for which is seriously underfunded. As I listened to Leah tell her story during Kehillah a few weeks ago, I knew that I wanted to be there to support her and also to raise money to help end childhood brain tumors so that none of my students would ever have to go through that again.”

With the success of her team in raising almost $14,000 and the positive feedback from participants, it is no surprise that Leah plans on having another “Lights for Leah” team next year.

UPDATED 11/22/17 for capitalization.

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