DOUGLASSVILLE — Aidan’s Avengers’ 5th Annual Local Childhood Cancer Superhero 5K/Walk and Family Fest on Sept. 28 raised money and awareness with all proceeds to benefit pediatric brain cancer research and financial support for families.
Aidan Dunion, Douglassville, was diagnosed with an aggressive, inoperable, incurable brain stem tumor, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) just shy of his fourth birthday in October 2013. After a grueling 10-month fight, Aidan passed away in August 2014.
A few months after his passing, Aidan's Avengers, a non-profit, section 501(c)(3), was formed in his memory. The organization's mission is to understand the devastating effects of pediatric brain cancer.
In addition to the run/walk, there were lots of activities including music, (toy) pig races, plinko, raffle baskets, sand art, coloring, face painting and appearances by Superman, Batman, Velma, Spiderman, and Homecoming Spiderman. The superheroes are members of Cosplayers Care, a non-profit organization based out of Reading that blends a love of cosplay and helping others.
“Our goal is to bring smiles and to make the days of children dealing with cancer, handicaps, autism, and other illnesses,” said Tori Jacobs, head volunteer and event coordinator for Cosplayers Care, who generally appears as Velma. “We have attended four of the superhero 5Ks for Aidan’s Avengers. Personally, what I like best about Cosplayers Care is the rewarding feeling, knowing we made a difference to these children. You never know what impact you can make.”
Most of the Cosplayers Care volunteers make or buy their own costumes. In addition to the heroes attending Aidan’s event, the group also includes Deadpool, Captain America, Black Widow, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Flash, plus several video game and Star Wars characters.
All event attendees were encouraged to dress in superhero garb. Marci Landsmann (who attended high school with Aiden’s mother) and Emma Grunwald, 4, who dressed as Supergirl, came from Flourtown to attend.
“We are just here to support Aiden,” said Sarah Lacek while waiting for her granddaughter, Hazel Harmon, 3, to have her face painted like Owlette from the show,”‘PJ Masks.”
“We come for the activities,” said Miranda Dombrosky of Limerick.
Gold ribbons, the international awareness symbol for childhood cancer, decorated the entire race course which took place in Aiden’s neighborhood.
“Volunteers handed out over 200 gold bows to neighbors along the run/walk route,” said Tara Dunion, Aiden’s mother.
Aidan’s Avengers have been raising awareness and funding for research programs that focus on pediatric brain tumors. They try to provide some financial peace of mind for families affected by pediatric brain cancer.
There is still no effective treatment and no chance of survival. Diagnosed with DIPG today a child will face the same prognosis as a child diagnosed 50 years ago; median survival is 9 months from the time of diagnosis.
In addition to Aidan’s family, four families who have lost a child to cancer attended the event including the Bitto Family. Christy Bitto, Colin Bitto, 9, and Tim Bitto took part in the Superhero Event to honor their 6-year-old daughter, Julia and to raise money and awareness. The Bitto Family lost Julia in March to DIPG.
About 20 Daniel Boone High School Key Club members helped at the Superhero Event. The student volunteers directed the 5K and assisted with other activities.
Brady Ferguson explains that he “brought the event to the Key Club and the students were happy to help.”
“Our family entered for the walk,” said Angie Conn. “We have always participated virtually for previous year’s events. We just moved to Allentown from Minnesota two months ago, so this year we were able to attend in person.”
Mark Floyd, 54, finished the 5K race in first place with a time of 22:07.0.
“I came in at about the time I expected,” he said.
Jack Hummel, a 17-year-old Daniel Boone High School student, came in second for the overall run. Saturday’s 5K was Hummel’s first 5K race.
“I did better than I thought I would, I just wanted to get out and run,” said Hummel whose time was 23:05.9.
“This is my third time (competing in this race),” said Heidi Floyd, 18, who took female first place and third place in the overall race.
Maiya Piccarreta, 15, a Daniel Boone High School student, took first place in Aiden’s Avengers Superhero 5K in the girls 18 and younger category.
“I enjoy running. I’m supporting Aiden’s family and I’m running for a cure,” she said.
Cassandra Raymond from Alpha & Omega Sports: Timing and Race Management said that full race results can be found at https://alphaandomegasports.com/.
Tri-County Chiropractic sponsored the race.
“We (Tri-County Chiropractic) have been sponsors every year. We help runners and walkers with stretching and muscle work,” said Dr. Kisla, Tri-County Chiropractic. “I treated Aiden when he was sick and we created a bond.”
For more about Aidan’s Avengers, visit www.AidansAvengers.org.