For 25 years Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training has raised $1.33 billion for patient advocacy, study treatments and support programs. A Kansas City group joined the effort because of one baby boy who has really never known life without tubes, needles and medicine.
Most of Isaac Hilker's life has been captured in the foreground of a hospital. Life quickly changed for the Hilker family after returning from a vacation.
"He was diagnosed at eight months. It was out of the blue. He went in for a routine doctor's check up and they thought he might be anemic so they ran some blood tests and called the next morning and said they thought he was leukemic and to get to Children's Mercy downtown right away," Tyler Hilker, Isaac's father, said.
Little Isaac's father now spends his time either crib side or trail side, training for the Kansas City Marathon in Isaac's name.
"But to know these other people are working hard for Isaac who is working really hard, that's awesome," Hilker said.
His employer, VML, formed a corporate team in training where runners raise donations and sponsorships from businesses like Garry Gribble's Running Sports for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
"When we do these team runs we always run it back for our patients in the hospital," said Katie Pierce, Hilker's training partner and co-worker. "We go through it with them, totally go through it with them. When they post pictures, I cry right there with them."
The pictures aren't always easy to look at. Isaac, now two, is fighting a treatment complication.
"By the time we reached his one year treatment milestone he had spent almost a third of his life in the hospital and now we're back, but he's recovering," Hilker said as he fought back tears.
While doctors said little Isaac's in remission, the statistics say something different.
"This type of leukemia is known for coming back a year or two later and by then it's immune to all other chemotherapy drugs and so the only option is a bone marrow transplant," Hilker said.
Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training is a big punch in Isaac's fight to beat the opponent that is cancer.
"Leukemia and Lymphoma Society helps fund one of the studies Isaac has been on," his dad said.
It also pays for quality of life programs, which can often make the difference in an unbearable situation.
"Every four minutes somebody new is diagnosed with a blood cancer and every 10 minutes somebody dies - that's a lot of people," Hilker said as the gravity of those statistics made him stop and step away to regain his composure.
The upcoming Crossroads 5k has committed its proceeds to the VML Team in Training.
Click here if you'd like to donate money or sponsor the team and click here to track Isaac's recovery.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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