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Jacey's final race?

Staff Writer | June 28, 2022 1:00 AM

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SANDPOINT – After 19 years of helping children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, this year’s race will likely be the final Jacey’s Race.

Starting in 2001, Jacey’s Race, a non-profit and fundraiser, has worked to help children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. The nonprofit has helped local youth and their families, starting with Jacey. At 4 years old, Jacey has diagnosed with a stage four Wilms tumor. A kidney cancer, Wilms tumors occur when immature kidney cells develop rapidly, according to the American Childhood Cancer Organization.

Started by the community, Jacey's Race is a 1K and 5K “fun run” race for all ages. It came to the community with Jacey and her parents when they moved to Sandpoint, starting the local version of the event in 2007. The fundraisers see runners register and gain sponsorship to raise funds while the event itself raises money via entry fees, the funds then go to a beneficiary family.

With a new family or multiple families selected as beneficiaries every year, the event has raised funds for more than 50 children and their families. But the beneficiaries gain more than financial aid, board member Karen McClelland said when a family becomes a beneficiary they also gain emotional support from those who have been where they are now.

The board, which consists of past beneficiaries and community members, has become very close, which only adds to the sadness of Jacey’s Race ending, McClelland said

“Sad, we cry, we love this event,” McClelland said about how the board feels about the event and organization coming to an end “We love our Jacey’s Race family.”

This year, the beneficiary chosen was 10-year-old Riley Albertson, who is battling blood and bone marrow cancer, called acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This cancer essentially produces white blood cells that do not function properly, robbing the body of its ability to fight germs, according to St. Judes Children Research Hospital.

Due to the treatments, the youth must go through, Riley and his family were unable to attend the beneficiary dinner, as he requires a considerable amount of rest. However, McClelland said she had spoken to Riley’s mother, Tasha Albertson and the family is praying for the youth’s rest period to allow them to be there on race day.

Going out with a bang this year's event will also bring awareness and support to the local hospital Bonner General Health and two local non-profit organizations, Unique Center For Athletes Of All Needs, an organization centered on creating a safe space for children and teens with special needs to engage in sports and learn about nutrition and Community Cancer Service and organization that focuses on providing resources, education, support to local cancer patients.

While this may be the final year for Jacey’s Race, McClelland said she is hopeful another organization will step in and take over the event, a sentiment shared by Jacey’s mother, Nancy Jenkins.

“It’s the last year because we have succeeded in our goal to increase awareness regarding all the severe illnesses that can affect children. It’s time for someone else to take it to the next level,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said the family appreciates the caring, hard-working Jacey’s Race board which has given freely of their time and talent for so many years.And, she said, all involved with the event are thankful for the support of the Sandpoint community in making it a special, well-attended, family-focused “with something for everyone,” community event since 2007

“We hope to make this an extraordinary final event,” she added.

Being a non-profit organization Jacey’s Race is completely staffed by volunteers, which is why volunteers can register before and on race day. To volunteer, learn more about Jacey’s Race, or register to race visit the organization's website or Facebook page.

Jacey’s Race will be held at Sandpoint High School, 401 S. Division Ave., starting at 8:30 a.m.

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