The following is an interview I did in 2012 for the Oswego Patch.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the St. Jude run.
Approximately 175 runners will depart from Midwestern University in Downers Grove, Illinois on July 20th, on a 150 mile, 30 hour relay run to Peoria. The run ends at the convention center in downtown Peoria where the annual St. Jude telethon is held. We even run throughout the night in order to make it to make it to Peoria by Saturday evening. Teams of 2-15 runners share RV’s for the 30 hour trip, taking turns hitting the pavement. Legs go anywhere from 2-6 miles, and runners swap out at each checkpoint. While it is a running event, it really isn’t about the running, it is all about the kids.
The goal of the run is to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Last year, the Chicago to Peoria runners raised over $300,000 for the hospital. This year we hope to improve upon that total.
Q: How did you get involved in the St. Jude Run?
In 2004, the company that I worked for was a big sponsor of the St. Jude Run. The company sponsored an entire team of runners, donating $1,000 per employee on the team. A few friends were involved and asked me if I wanted to participate. Considering the cause and the fact that I was an avid runner, I thought it sounded like fun and decided I’d give it a try. Once I participated in this run in 2004, it has been something that I look forward to every year. Now that I no longer work with my St. Jude teammates, it is a highlight of my summer to spend time with old friends, some of whom I may only see this one time every year. It is true camaraderie, you laugh together, cry together during the 30 hour trip to Peoria. Some would say that we have to be a little bit crazy to spend 30 hours in an RV shuffling across Illinois in the July heat. Let me tell you, it tends to get a bit “odorous” on the RV very quickly. This is not for everyone…
Q: What is it about the run that keeps you coming back every year?
Along the way we are constantly reminded what this run is all about. Starting at Midwestern University there are various current patients, former patients and their families that encourage us, tell us their stories and how St. Jude has helped them. We are reminded that the hospital does not turn away patients that cannot pay for their services, and we are updated by St. Jude on progress that is being made to help not only cure individual patients, but also to cure types of cancer that affects kids. To be part of something so positive, it is not something I want to miss. Every year on Saturday morning we make a special stop in Roanoke, Illinois that is always a highlight for me as well.
Q: What is so special about the stop in Roanoke?
Roanoke is a town of approximately 2000 people about 30 miles from Peoria. There have been two patients at St. Jude from Roanoke over the years, so they are big supporters of St. Jude. Every year the people of Roanoke line the streets as we head into town, escorted by the local fire department and ambulance service. Roanoke has a very nice park in the center of town with a swimming pool and showers! After you have been running for 24 hours without taking a shower, I cannot begin to describe to you how wonderful it feels to get in that pool. Once we get to Roanoke, the families of the Roanoke patients always thank us for what we do and tell us their stories and how St. Jude helped them. It is always extremely emotional to hear the patients’ St. Jude stories and hear them express their gratitude to us as St. Jude runners and our sponsors. To be honest, I always make sure to wear sunglasses to cover up the fact that I’m crying like a baby underneath the glasses. It is very emotional, to say the least and reminds me how important St. Jude’s mission is and why we’re all involved.
On top of the fact that we get to clean up in the showers and pool, the people of Roanoke have a feast ready for us when we get there. Every year one of the local farmers plants a special plot of corn so that it will be ready on the day we are scheduled to arrive. Let me tell you… that is the best corn you will ever eat, picked fresh the night before and cooked up that morning. Besides the corn, the people of Roanoke make brownies, cookies, and all kinds of other treats. It really hits the spot after piling on miles for the last 24 hours. As a runner my first year, I knew after our visit to Roanoke that this was going to become part of my summer routine for years to come, it is a special moment that really makes you realize what is important in your life.
Q: So what do you do to raise money for St. Jude?
I’m fortunate in the fact that I have a great network of friends and family that has always been very supportive. I send out an email and generally am able to raise a lot of money that way. I’ve also participated in canning events and I’m a musician, so we have also had benefit concerts in the past. This year with the help of the other guys in Finneus, I am hoping to take it to another level by recording a song and shooting a video with the help of our keyboardist, Jeff Dometita.
Q: What are the song and video about?
The song is called “Couple Days” and is about the St. Jude Run and specifically about the stop in Roanoke. We recently recorded it and are now working on the video. Our goal is to “go viral” with the video with the help of websites like YouTube and Twitter, increasing awareness of St. Jude’s mission and hopefully also raising money towards the cause. I recently saw an article recently about a “photogenic runner” that had received 1.4 million hits, that makes me think that if we can get the video out there, we can make this happen…
Q: What can someone do if they want to help?
My website for donations is www.stjudepeoriaruns.org/davebucher. Any donation helps! You cannot imagine how much the patients and their families appreciate your donations. Every year I see the results of what St. Jude does first hand from patients and their families, it is truly an amazing organization. You can also get more information about St. Jude at their website, www.stjude.org. When you hear about our video thru YouTube or Twitter, pass it on!