Local childhood cancer organization plans run and walk for February

A local organization hopes to support families and children battling childhood cancer with a superhero-themed run in late February.

The Smiles From Heaven, led by the Bella Strong organization, organizes a 5K run and walk to raise awareness and funds for children battling childhood cancer. One of the group’s founders and leaders said that as they prepare to host, they are also looking for sponsors and ways to motivate the community to attend the event.

“The SFH Superheroes 5K, taking place in North Central Park on February 26, will be our first-ever annual 5K,” said Ray Sanchez, co-founder and president of Smiles From Heaven. “We will join forces with the community to save our children from cancer, because no child should fight cancer alone. There’s a saying carved into my heart that goes, “Sometimes real superheroes live in the hearts of little kids fighting big battles,” and I agree 100%. Kids battling cancer are the real superheroes.

For Sanchez, his personal superhero is his daughter Bella Sanchez, who died of childhood cancer in April 2019. Ultimately, her death is what inspired the Sanchez family to create the Bella Strong organization as well as SFH. They have become very active over the past year organizing events to bring the community together to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer.

Their main goal is to hopefully one day see the establishment of a pediatric cancer hospital in the city.


“My personal superhero Bella is now in heaven, but I am committed to continuing her mission here on earth fighting alongside other little superheroes through our work with Smiles From Heaven,” Sanchez said. “This walk/run is about showing our local cancer warriors that they are not alone and that the community is there to fight with them.”

Runners who attend the race and show their support will not only be able to show they are there, but will also be able to earn a medal if they place in the top three.

“Not only will the community be able to show their support, but the top three race times from each division will have a chance to win an awesome SFH Superhero Medal,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez also says that 150 superhero shirts and capes will also be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to children and people who attend. He hopes the event will be a success like others they have held in recent months.

The SFH president says all proceeds raised will go directly to funding some of the basic needs of parents whose children have childhood cancer. He also mentions that people attending the run and walk can go in their superhero attire, which would be greatly appreciated for anyone who shows up.

“All proceeds from the event will go to our programs to continue to help children and their families affected by childhood cancer and blood disorders,” Sanchez said. “I also want to mention that local superheroes/cancer warriors will be at the event with their awesome costumes. We encourage the community to come in superhero gear as well.

Sanchez says the event is still less than a month away, he’s also looking for active sponsors who would like to be part of the event and support the cause. He says these sponsors will be able to showcase their brand and logo while helping to facilitate funds for the good cause.

“All of our sponsors will be on our t-shirts, banners and photo backgrounds,” Sanchez said. “SFH is a 501c(3) non-profit organization that is qualified to receive tax-deductible donations.”

Ultimately, however, Sanchez wants people to attend the event and show their support, as childhood cancer is a serious and persistent problem for various families in the cities who often have to deal with the problem alone and out of town. He hopes the support will extend to this march as there have been many other events where people turn up in large numbers.

“Finally, I want to thank everyone who supported Smiles From Heaven,” Sanchez said. “Thanks to you, we’ve officially been serving children and families for two years now, and were recently rated a ‘Top Nonprofit’ by Great Nonprofits, the leading nonprofit community story platform. Thank you and hope to see everyone at the event.

The five-kilometre run and walk is scheduled for Saturday, February 26 in North Central Park starting at 6 a.m. for early registrants. Right now the early bird fee is $20 and people can do that by going to their website and signing up.

Sanchez says anyone interested in becoming an official sponsor of the event can do so by contacting Sanchez at [email protected] He can also be contacted there for more information about the event and others that the SFH hosts or participates in.

[email protected]

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