Students fight leukemia in Alaskan run

After a long day of hitting the books, a run can bring a welcome relief from stress for many MUSC students. But when Rina Hooper and Lynn Babyak lace up their shoes and hit the pavement, they’re not just running to blow off steam.

Hooper and Babyak, second-year students in the College of Medicine, are part of the Leukemia Society’s Team-In-Training. In addition to marathon training, they’re raising funds to support local children with leukemia and the society’s research, marrow donor registry and awareness efforts. Each has pledge $3,500 to run 26.2 miles in the Midnight Sun Run in Anchorage, Alaska on June 20.

Between school, volunteering at MUSC’s Crime Victims Center, and other extracurricular activities, it’s not easy to squeeze in time for marathon training and requesting contributions. But “what we’re doing is nothing in comparison to what children with leukemia and their families must go through,” Babyak said.

As a counselor at Camp Happy Days, Babyak saw first-hand how leukemia can affect children. She will be running in honor of a special camper, 5-year-old Keith Altman of Florence. Hooper will be running in honor of Kristina Walker a 12-year-old leukemia patient.

The Charleston Team-In-Training is part of a larger state team that makes up a national Leukemia Society Marathon Team that will run in several races during the year. The Leukemia Society of America Team-In-Training program has been training runners and walkers to achieve their fitness and marathon goals for more than 6 years. Sixty percent of money raised stays in the Charleston area to support local patients. The remaining 40 percent funds the research and educational efforts of the National Leukemia Society.

To help them raise $3,500 each for the Leukemia Society, call Hooper or Babyak at (843) 853-9183, or send a check payable to the Leukemia Society to 108L Smith Street, Charleston, S.C., 29403. Contributions are 100 percent tax deductible.

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