Friends walk, run to fight cancer

Over the past two years, the Fighting for Friends 1-mile walk/run has raised nearly $10,000 for children battling cancer. The event is all-inclusive and aimed at showing support.

Evy Keppers of Superior poses with the Fourth of July float advertising the Fighting for Friends 1-mile walk/run taking place Saturday at Bear Creek Park. Keppers and a friend developed the event two years ago to raise funds for the battle against childhood cancer. (Submitted photo)

Over the past two years, the Fighting for Friends 1-mile walk/run has raised nearly $10,000 for children battling cancer. The event is all-inclusive and aimed at showing support.

"It's $4 per person and then $10 for a group of four unless you can't afford it, then it's free, because you're still showing support," said organizer Evy Keppers, 10, of Superior. "And then there will be free water, because we don't want people to faint."

The race kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday and includes a bake sale, concessions, T-shirt and tank top sales and a free bounce house for kids. The course begins and ends at Superior's Bear Creek Park. Dogs and strollers are accepted; the route is wheelchair accessible.

Superior Mayor Jim Paine ran in last year's event and plans to be there Saturday, fresh off his fastest ever 5K time at the William A. Irvin 5K last month.

The Fighting for Friends race is unique, he said, because it's put on by youngsters for a great cause. It's also one of the only 1-mile races in the area.


"For runners and the community at large, it's more accessible," Paine said.

Keppers, a sixth-grader, started the annual event with a friend, but is organizing it solo this year.

"It's always been super important to me," she said. "Because it's for the kids. We're trying to save their lives."

Individuals and businesses have stepped up to support the event through donations, sponsorships and checks. Many reached out to Keppers, her mother said, instead of the other way around. They added a new fundraiser this year: a pancake breakfast at Lost in the '50s that raised $850.

Seventy percent of the proceeds from the event go to St. Baldrick's Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research. Another 20 percent is earmarked for toys, games and other requests for the Erick Peter Persons Pediatric Cancer Floor at Essentia Health in Duluth. The money usually gets more mileage with Keppers, who said she loves to shop and negotiate.

"It makes me enjoy shopping more because I know that I can get them a better (deal), because I won't give up on it," the sixth-grader said.

After talking to two managers, she was able to knock $100 off the price of an iPad for the pediatric cancer floor last year, which replaced one that had been stolen.

The final 10 percent goes to a local child with cancer.


For the first two years, it went to Dexter Ojeda of Duluth, who lost his battle with cancer in May. Keppers said she was glad to contribute toward the 11-year-old's bucket list.

This year's 10 percent will go to Nathalia, a high school freshman battling bone cancer.

"She was diagnosed with it when she was 12 years old," Keppers said. "She's had it for two years now and three months ago, they found out that the cancer came back. That's what happened with Dexter, too."

Paine was excited about the venue. The walk/run invites the public to hang out and explore the city's park and recreation system.

"You can access the entire city by foot from that park," Paine said.

If they hand him a microphone, the mayor said, he plans to talk about the city's future Wisconsin Point trail, which will begin at Bear Creek Park.

Keppers said she always hopes Fighting for Friends will be more successful than in past years. But as long as at least three people come, she said, it's a success.

Donations are accepted year-round at or at Superior Choice Credit Union, 2817 Tower Ave. Visit the "Fighting For Friends Superior" Facebook page or email for more information.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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