No matter how long it takes Amanda Merrell to get to the finish line of the Race for Every Child (raceforeverychild.org), she’s already a winner.
The 11-year-old from Damascus, Md., was diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 2. She underwent 14 rounds of chemotherapy at the Children’s National Medical Center, and doctors had to amputate her left leg below the knee.
But that’s not stopping her from taking on the 5K course along Pennsylvania Avenue on Oct. 5. She’ll have her cheetah-print running prosthesis. She’ll have her family: Her mom and younger sister will participate, while her dad will cheer from the sidelines. And she’ll have appreciation for the fact that she wouldn’t be there at all without the team at the hospital.
“They helped to save my life and stuff,” Amanda says. “I want to help save other kids’ lives now so they can be cancer survivors, too.”
The fundraiser is a first for the hospital, says race director Sharon Kessler, who hopes the event also brings attention to the research programs at Children’s National. (Finding minimally invasive surgical techniques is a current goal.)
Even families not into running have good reason to stop by, Kessler says. The event’s activities will include face painting, crafts, magic tricks and an appearance by “Pretty Little Liars” star Ian Harding.