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23,000 participate in St. Jude Marathon

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – It may have been a pain to get around the city Saturday, but it was all in the name of cancer research.

Tens of thousands of people – from across the country and the world – were in the Bluff City for the 15th annual St. Jude Marathon, lacing up their sneakers, walking, running and raising money for a great cause.

Ask any one of them why they’re out here, and the answer is the same.

“The kids,” one runner told WREG.

“We love the kids and so we just want to help out and do something for a reason,” said one couple, who came from Arkansas to support the hospital.

“I appreciate everything that they’re doing for these kids,” another runner, who came all the way from Maryland, told WREG.

“It’s all about the kids, it’s not for us,” Leslie Gillis said. “We’re here, we’re fighting with you as well.”

And it’s not just people fighting on behalf of those kids – some of the runners are patients themselves or have already battled the disease and won.

Like James Eversole, a former St. Jude patient.

“I’d do anything for the kids and for St. Jude,” he said.

Every year, Eversole makes the nearly 500-mile journey from Dallas to Memphis just to be a part of it.

“The children deserve to live a life,” he said, “And we need to fight and kill all the cancer.”

Some make the trek dressed as superheroes, just like those kids so bravely fighting the disease every day.

“It’s pretty inspiring to think about all these people coming together and telling the patients and families of St. Jude that they’re not alone, that they’re here together to support us in helping us find cures and save children,” said Emily Callahan, chief marketing officer for ALSAC, the fundraising organization for St. Jude.

The massive turnout for Saturday’s race is great for the kids, of course, but it’s also a huge boost to the city’s economy, expected to bring in $20 million to the Bluff City.

“[People] filling up our hotels, going to our restaurants, and supporting the incredible cause that St. Jude does,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said.

And hopefully, helping to find a cure along the way.

If you couldn’t participate Saturday but still want to help out, you can donate at http://www.stjude.org.

The hospital is hoping to raise $10 million this year for sick kids.