Cason running for a good cause

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 13, 1998

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / July 13, 1998

LAPLACE – Running a marathon is one of the most grueling sporting activities, combining a need of strength of mind and spirit as well as body. Runners are always looking for encouragement to go an extra step, torun an extra mile. For Kyle Cason, all he needs to do is look down at hiswrist.

On it is a wrist band with the name of a leukemia or lymphoma patient.

And looking down at that name, Cason realizes that each mile he takes could mean another step toward the cure for those dreaded diseases and make a difference in that person’s life.

Cason, a Nuclear Medicine Technician at River Parishes Hospital, is a member of the Leukemia Society of America’s team in training. Cason,along with 25 others from Louisiana and over 6,000 team members from around the world, were among the 20,000 runners who recently completed the Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon in San Diego, raising over $15 million for patient aid programs for leukemia and lymphoma patients and for research programs aimed at finding cures for the diseases. That figure establisheda record for a single-day fundraiser.

For Cason, it was a continuation of a dream come true. Cason has beenrunning for over 15 years, competing in such races as the Crescent City Classic and the Azalea Trail Run in Alabama, and always wanted to run in a marathon but wasn’t sure how to properly train for one. Then one day inJuly 1995, Cason came across an advertisement in Runner’s World for those interested in running a marathon and raising money for leukemia patients.

Around the same time, Cason’s wife, Kim, told him about one of her friends at work had a child who had leukemia. Cason decided to run inHonolulu marathon for that child, Jared Parriano, and for one of his patients at the hospital, Lisa Faucheux Prejean.

“Not only would I be running a marathon, I would be helping someone while doing it,” Cason said.

The Leukemia Society helped Cason train for the marathon, with professional runners showing him the proper conditioning exercises and running mechanics as well as giving him information on nutrition and how to prevent injuries. Cason ran in the race that December, raising $2500 forthe society.

“Without the Leukemia Society’s help in training and mental support, I don’t know if I would have been able to run a marathon, Cason said. “I havethem to thank for that.”Cason said the Leukemia Society offers four to five marathons a year around the world with upcoming ones in Dublin, Toronto and Maui. Runnersraise between $2500 to $4500 with all proceeds going directly to the Leukemia Society for patient aid programs. Cason said in addition torunning, participants have the option of waling the marathon or participating in 100-mile bike rides.

Cason said during the San Diego marathon, there were bands at each mile to encourage the runners and the city put on a concert after the race and also provided food, drink and medical personnel. Cason also said hereceived a lot of encouragement along the route from patients with leukemia, their family members and the general public.

Cason said one of the most touching moments in his life came during that race. At the end of the race, he was walking away from the finish linetired and slightly dehydrated when he was passed by a young girl carrying a baby. The young girl looked at him and with tears welling in her eyessaid, “Thank you very, very much.” Cason instinctively replied “Oh, you’rewelcome.” A few seconds later, he realized that the baby had a leukemiashirt on and that the young girl was thanking someone she did not know but who was raising money for the cause.

“That was very touching for me,” Cason said.

Cason ran that race for one of his patients, Claudette Henry. He said thatwhen he decided to run the race, she was the first person to come to his mind and that he was honored to be able to run the race and finish it for her.

Cason said he has seen thousands of patients since he began working at the hospital 15 years ago. Over those years the cure rate for leukemia hasimproved from 20 percent to over 80 percent with the Society’s goal to find a cure by the year 2000. Cason said he is pleased that he has beenable to make a contribution toward that goal.

“It was a different ballgame for me, but once I started doing it, I really enjoyed it and felt good because the money would go to a worthy cause,” Cason said.

Cason wanted to thank River Parish Hospital administrator Ann Kuss as well as the employees and physicians and people in the community for helping him support the cause. He said he is planning to run in othermarathons for the society in the near future. And if he does begin to tireduring a race, he knows just where to look for encouragement.

“I just look down at the bracelet and know what I am running the race for,” Cason said.

For more information on the Leukemia Society and its programs call 1- 888-290-0945.

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