Runners cover 66 miles from Peru to Peoria to raise money for St. Jude

Run organizer says she’ll never forget the power of St. Jude in saving her daughter’s life

Kelly Schaefer’s daughter, Madison, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at 8 days old. Soon after entering the world, Madison became a patient at St. Jude and was treated for her cancer.

Madison is now turning 24 on Aug. 14 and was declared cancer free when she was 8 months old.

Kelly, of Peru, now organizes the local St. Jude Run that took place Saturday, Aug. 6. She sees her involvement as a way of paying back St. Jude for the life of her daughter. She said she’s extremely grateful for what St. Jude did for Madison and said their family didn’t have to make a single payment towards her cancer care.

“My reason [for doing this] is simple. I have a healthy daughter,” Kelly said. “I’ve experienced the power of St. Jude and I’ll never forget it.”

This is Kelly’s 23rd St. Jude run. While she organizes it, both Madison and her father, Jim, run in the race.

Eighteen runners took to the streets beginning at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning, covering a total of 66 miles on the La Salle-Peru to Peoria St. Jude Run. Runners signed up for different lengths spanning anywhere from a few to 15 miles, beginning in Peru and ending in Peoria at about 4 p.m.

A celebration is prepared for the runners once they reach Peoria. Food, water, snacks, a St. Jude store, beer garden and more are prepared to reward the participants for crossing the finish line.

Each runner is tasked with raising $1,000 for St. Jude in order to participate. Despite the extreme heat throughout the day, the group finished the race and raised a total of $31,500.

If you’re interested in becoming a runner or making a donation, visit the St. Jude Runs website at