JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Hadley Gray was just 2 years old when she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and had to travel with her family across the state for months-long treatments and appointments at St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
“I had to get so many medications and didn’t sleep and got so many shots, and now I hate shots,” the now 7-year-old said to News Channel 11 during an interview ahead of an event aimed to raise awareness about childhood cancer.
On Saturday, Sept. 24 at 9 a.m., the Tri-Cities St. Jude Walk/Run will kick off from King Commons in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The hybrid event will feature a 5K and virtual options to raise funds for St. Jude Children’s Research and benefit families like Hadley’s, who had to put their lives on hold in the fight to save her life.
“Oh, man, St. Jude gave us our little girl,” said Hadley’s mother, Brittany Gray. “We wouldn’t have her today if it wasn’t for St. Jude. They’ve just been invaluable to us throughout her entire treatment, and they continue to follow her care. We don’t know what we’d do without them.”
St. Jude families never receive a bill for the treatments, appointments, housing, travel or food — all of those funds are raised through events like the one scheduled on Saturday in Johnson City, which will feature food trucks, family entertainment and a St. Jude patient family speaker who will share why the community’s support means so much.
“During Hadley’s treatment, all of her treatment was covered,” said Brittany Gray. “We received no bill. We received no bill for her treatment. Our housing was also provided. We did not have to pay for that. We were provided a meal card; we were able to use on campus in the cafeteria.”
Hadley, now a second-grader, enjoys time with her furry playmate — her very first cat. There had been a time that Hadley’s immune system had been so weak that the family couldn’t keep a plant in the home. But that time is no longer, and she’s thankful for St. Judes for that.
“St. Jude is a great place, and I think it’s really good for kids that have cancer, and I like going back and feeling memories from when I was there,” Hadley said.
To be a part of the Tri-Cities St. Jude Walk/Run, register by clicking here. Those interested can join a team, start a team or register as an individual. There are also virtual options available. To donate to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, click here.