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Beverly Hills Turkey Trot Funds Brain Cancer Study Headed To Clinical Trial

By Howard Ludwig | October 30, 2017 5:28am
 Proceeds from the Beverly Hills Turkey Trot are split between the John McNicholas Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and the 19th Ward Youth Foundation. The race will return to North Beverly this year at 9 a.m. Nov. 25.
Proceeds from the Beverly Hills Turkey Trot are split between the John McNicholas Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and the 19th Ward Youth Foundation. The race will return to North Beverly this year at 9 a.m. Nov. 25.
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Supplied Photo

BEVERLY — The Beverly Hills Turkey Trot will again offer runners and walkers an opportunity to get in a post-Thanksgiving workout while raising money for a pair of local causes.

The proceeds from the 5K run and family walk through North Beverly will be split between the John McNicholas Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and the 19th Ward Youth Foundation.

The youth group hosts annual events including summer outdoor movie nights, a holiday dodgeball tournament, neighborhood concerts and more.

For the past six years, the race that returns at 9 a.m. Nov. 25 to Christ the King Parish at 9235 S. Hamilton Ave. has also helped to support the charity known among local residents as Live Like John.

This charity is named for John McNicholas, a 15-year-old boy who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor on March 31, 2010 and died 10 months later. His parents, Ed and Amy McNicholas, founded the charity named for their late son.

Their goal is to find a cure for pediatric brain tumors, and they have worked to achieve this by assembling a team of specialists at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. Their efforts will result in a clinical trial this spring.

"My goal in this was not for my grief journey. It was to create a business that would go out of business," said Amy McNicholas, who would like nothing more than to close up shop having found a cure for the disease that took her son.

In fact, McNicholas said it usually takes nine years for a drug to move to the clinical trial phase. She remains excited about the rapid pace of advancements, as well as the team of researchers who will work together to analyze the results of the trail.

As for the race, the Live Like John Service and Leadership Institute is stepping in to help with coordination. The group was launched in 2014 response to local students approaching McNicholas in need of service hours.

About 30 high school students from about a dozen schools throughout the city now meet once a month to focus on raising awareness and finding money for research, McNicholas said.

Ahead of the 5K, those involved in the institute will put together teams from their respective schools. They will also distribute lawn signs to promote the race and then help to staff water stations on race day.

"It is really about trying to create these ambassadors to move our mission forward," McNicholas said.

Principal Ann Marie Riordan (right) of Christ the King School stands beside a pair of young runners ready to take on the Beverly Hills Turkey Trot. The event planned for 9 a.m. Nov. 25 is in its ninth year and will again raise money for the John McNicholas Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. [Supplied Photo]

Her group has also brought on several partners, including Live Like Finn, Live Like Abby and others. These charities born out of similar tragedies together made a $350,000 donation to the joint research effort Sept. 12.

This follows an earlier $500,000 donation, and McNicholas hopes to raise $540,000 next year to keep the program alive as it enters what they hope will be a stage that will yield a breakthrough.

The 5K typically draws about 1,500 participants and contributes about $10,000 toward the charity's efforts. McNicholas hopes to boost this donation this year and has a goal of drawing 2,000 runners and walkers to the race.

All participants who register by Wednesday are guaranteed a hooded sweatshirt. After that, runners and walkers will receive a long sleeved shirt on a first-come, first-served basis as well as a goodie bag.

It costs $30 for individual runners and walkers who register by Nov. 16 to participate in the race that takes over the tree-lined streets of North Beverly on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. After the deadline, the price jumps to $35 for both runners and those participating in the untimed walk.

Children younger than 13 years old can participate in the Turkey Trot for $20 if they register by Nov. 16 or $25 after.

There's also a 5K untimed family fun walk package that costs $75 for those who register by Nov. 16 and $80 after. It includes four sweatshirts.

Post-race refreshments will be available as well as a pancake breakfast in the gym at Christ the King School. The breakfast starts at 10:30 a.m. and costs $5 per person. All of the food is donated by the Original Pancake House in Beverly.

For more information and to register online, visit Ald. Matt O'Shea's website or call 773-238-8766.