The Plymouth-Canton community rallies to support families with health difficulties

Participants+exit+the+Canton+High+School+East+Turf+Stadium+and+begin+down+the+path+of+the+race.+Sunday%2C+May+1%2C+2022.+

Brennan Petrucci

Participants exit the Canton High School East Turf Stadium and begin down the path of the race. Sunday, May 1, 2022.

By Sejal Naik, Sanjana Madapa, Brennan Petrucci, and RJ Doroshewitz

Thousands of runners bedecked in green lined up on the East Turf Stadium bleachers, ready to help support families facing health challenges within the Plymouth-Canton community, quietly talking amongst themselves while music played through speakers arranged in the field below. An air horn blew, and the participants filed off to begin the run.

The green adorned runners participated in the annual Super Jess 5K (SJ5K) on Sunday, May 1, 2022, for the first time in two years due to COVID-19 related cancellations. 

This year’s event was the twelfth time the run has taken place in person. 

The event was first conducted in 2011 and was created by a student at the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park (P-CEP) to support a then-Canton sophomore named Jesse Lindlbauer who had suffered a near-fatal brain abscess rupture. 

In 2022, the families of five individuals facing health challenges were nominated to receive the funds raised by the community: Marty Kraft, diagnosed with stage 3 cancer in October 2021 and the husband to Liberty Middle School teacher Susan Kraft; Reverend Clarence Davis, sufferer of a non-fatal cardiac arrest in early 2017 and father to three P-CCS students; Dale Palmer, Plymouth High School teacher diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer in March 2020; Lane Kleinglass,  graduate of Salem High School diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; and Natalie Tanana, an individual born with the rare CDKL5 deficiency disorder and sister to two Canton High School graduates. 

The families of the funds’ recipients joined the festivities on the field.

Participants exit the Canton High School East Turf Stadium after the opening ceremony to prepare for the race to formally begin. Sunday, May 1, 2022. (Brennan Petrucci)

The family of Tanana will use the funds to purchase Natalie a new mobility bike as she struggles with mobility. According to her mother, the bike represents freedom. 

The families do not only benefit from the fundraised donations, however. According to Tanana’s mother, the support families receive from the united community has a tremendous impact.

“It’s heartwarming—the fact that everyone comes together,” said the mother of Natalie Tanana. “Sometimes [struggling with disabilities] is a very isolating road, and seeing everyone out showing their support has been wonderful.”

The SJ5K’s student leadership team coordinated the race. According to Emily Mundorf, Canton senior and SJ5K student coordinator, and Sahana Kotha, Salem senior and communications director, the run had roughly 2,100 participants, raising sums of money in the range of $130,000-$140,000.

The funds raised came from a number of different sources, including registration fees, sponsorships and donations.

Mundorf believes that the SJ5K has impacts on the larger Plymouth-Canton community. 

“I think it teaches the community a lot of compassion, and it gives people a new perspective into thinking about what their friends, their families and their neighbors are going through,” said Mundorf.

Kotha also sees a greater purpose beyond raising money. “It teaches people that their community is bigger than themselves.” 

The student leadership team, the body responsible for organizing the event, emphasized the impact that participating in the run can have. 

“I knew that the SJK5 was part of something bigger than just a normal student council or club, and I wanted to do something to both meet new people and help the community at the same time,” said Jenna Badger, Canton junior and member of the leadership team. “I think people enjoy having something easy to do that they know makes a big difference. You can register for the race and know that something as simple as wearing a T-shirt helps the community.”

This feeling of community and significance reverberated throughout the various parties involved. 

“I think [the event] brings the community together as a whole. We all run this event, and we draw together to help the families, ” said Jackson Trombly, Plymouth junior. Trombly was one of the first to finish the run. 

The sentiment was shared by participants and organizers alike. 

“Being able to see the turnout here reminds us why we do it,” stated Kotha.

This story was originally published on The Perspective on May 1, 2022.