For the ninth straight year, Dave Bucher will participate in the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital relay run from Chicago to Peoria. To raise additional funds and awareness, Bucher's band, Finneus, created a music video about the experience.
The Chicago branch of the St. Jude run starts July 20 in Downers Grove and culminates the next day in Peoria, the location of the St. Jude telethon.
The run is about 150 miles and will take about 30 hours. Runners take turns completing legs of the journey, which are between two to six miles. The runner then chooses whether to continue or trade off with a teammate. The 2012 St. Jude run includes thousands of runners starting in 29 different cities and all ending in Peoria. The Chicago based team includes about 175 runners.
“The highlight every year is when we enter Roanoke, which is about 30 miles from Peoria and after we’ve been running about 24 hours,” Bucher said. “You can see the silos from about 8 miles away. Two miles away you start seeing the fire trucks…Kids are lined up along the street. There are a couple hundred people waiting. We are tired, hungry and dirty and the town is just ready.”
The runners take a break to shower and enjoy a meal prepared by Roanoke families.
“There are food trays of all kinds of things…but the corn is the best. They plant a small plot of corn specifically to be ready for us. It is as fresh as fresh can be…They go all out and it really picks you back up and rejuvenates you.”
Bucher explained that Roanoke, population of approximately 2,000, has two recent St. Jude patients. Each year, the father of a prior patient discusses with the runners how much St. Jude means to his family. “I have to wear sunglasses because I can’t listen without bawling,” Bucher explained.
“St. Jude is amazing. They don’t turn anyone away,” Bucher said. “I’ve seen first-hand how much it means to the patient and their family that strangers are helping raise money for St. Jude. If a child is sent to St. Jude, it means it’s serious and they are running out of options. … It’s important that we help,” Bucher explained.
St. Jude’s mission is “to find cures for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.” It is ranked one of the best pediatric cancer hospitals in the country and, on average, 7,800 patients are treated in the hospital each year. “No family ever pays St. Jude for anything.”
Bucher sings and plays bass in local rock band, Finneus. Five years ago, Bucher wrote the song A Couple Days about the run and the Roanoke experience. Band member, Jeff Dometita, suggested using his visual talents to create a music video.
Dometita said he seized upon the opportunity to do something different to bring more attention and increase fundraising.
Dometita said he hopes the video “gets the buzz going this year and might inspire other people to go the extra step. If it gets people thinking of other ideas for fundraising and raises more money for a good cause, then mission accomplished,” he explained.
“We’re really trying to get the word out there. I hope that our effort is converted into donations. We are doing everything we can do. I’m really hoping the video goes viral,” Bucher said.
Last year, Bucher raised about $2,600. This year his goal is $5,000. Donations are accepted through Bucher's website.
Bucher’s goal is to run 50 of the 150 miles; in prior years he has run 40 miles.
Bucher has no direct ties to St. Jude. He said he is touched by the cause and sees the impact the hospital has had on others and is happy to help.