A First Army Division West officer and his son recently created a superhero and hosted a 5-kilometer run/walk in Grenada, Miss., raising awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
“When I first saw all of the amazing work that St. Jude was doing, I knew that my son and I had to be part of this,” said Maj. Tony Winters, deputy logistics officer at First Army Division West.
“Each year we try as a family to do charity work, but after speaking to my son, Braden, about St. Jude, we agreed to make this our every-year, all-year mission to help fight childhood cancer.”
Winters and Braden, 12, created a character called the “Annihilator of Childhood Cancer” and also founded The Annihilator Running Club with friends to host the inaugural 5k run/walk, Kid’s Race and Easter Egg Hunt in April at Grenada High School.
Winters approached family, friends, and local businesses in his hometown of Grenada to get support and sponsorship. From TLAB Clothing, owned by a high school classmate, Juan Shawn Green, to the Belle Flower Missionary Baptist Church, and even a local pizzeria, Lost Pizza Company, over 50 people assembled for an all-volunteer team which planned, coordinated and put on the inaugural event.
“Our family, friends, church and entire Grenada community taught me the power of what can be accomplished by the passion of a few people with good hearts can do,” Winters said. “It further taught me how giving people from Mississippi naturally are.”
The first 5k race raised $2,366 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, named the “Kid’s Race for Blake Kendall,” after a local child suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia being treated at St. Jude, and held a 2,500 Easter egg hunt.
“My heart goes out to the children suffering from any childhood cancer; it seems so unfair,” Winters said. “The truth is that this could be any of our families affected by cancer and for St. Jude to do this work at no charge to the families, it is my honor to be able to help.”
An avid runner, Winters has taken part in more than 100 full marathons, half-marathons, 10k and 5k races, and is elated to see how Braden is running in his footsteps, tackling his third 5k race. The elder Winters hopes to make running the family sport.