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5K fun run/walk in honor of Brett Smith will be held in Solon on April 5

Keeping his memory alive

SOLON– Although Brett Smith passed away nearly two years ago, his memory is still strong in the hearts of his friends, family, and community.
Sarah Drea and Brady Smith, first cousins of Brett, are organizing an untimed running and walking event in honor of their family member.
“It’s just a way for us to remember him and share in his memory,” said Drea. “It’s something that’s not sad. We just thought it would be a good way to keep his memory out there, get together, and celebrate his life.”
The run will be held on April 5 at 10 a.m. in Solon. Participants can pre-register and pay the $25 dollar fee at www.brettsrunsolon.org. Here, participants can also find a map of the route, a countdown to the day of the race, and a short bio about Brett. Pre-registration ends on Wednesday, March 26, but same-day registration will be available from 8:30 until 9:30 a.m. at the check-in area at Lakeview Elementary. Pre-registering guarantees a participant a T-shirt by the day of the race. Participants who have pre-registered will also have the option of picking up their materials the day before the race from 6 until 8 p.m. at 1924 Hwy. 1 NE, Solon. Participants who register the day of the race will still be able to order a T-shirt, but they won’t receive it until later.
“We’re using the route that the Beef Days Fun Run uses, so anybody who has run that will be familiar with the route. We’ll have signs directing the route, and we’ll have volunteers along the route directing people where to go,” explained Drea.
The proceeds from the race will go to UNIte for Nora, a campaign supporting 2-year-old Nora Sanderson who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at 20 months of age. A link to UNIte for Nora’s Facebook page is on the event’s website.
“When Brett was sick, the community really rallied and came around, so (Brett’s parents) Jeff and Carmen feel really good about being able to give back,” said Drea. “When they were in need, they had help from people in the area. The money is going to help a really good family.”
Despite raising money for another young person who has been affected by cancer, Drea wanted to make it clear that the event is to primarily help the community remember Brett.
“This was not set up to be a fundraiser. It’s not why we did it,” said Drea. “I really wanted the focus to be about the race and about Brett.”
Brett was diagnosed with Acute Myloid Leukemia in January of his senior year. He was treated at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics but was later sent to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Brett passed away there on April 16, 2012.
Although Brett is no longer with us, his friends and family still remember him fondly. Becca Hoy, who graduated from Solon High School in 2010, recounted the good times she had with Brett.
“I had the pleasure of going to WPA and Prom with him my senior year,” said Hoy. “He was a great date. However, I had to buy really tall heels to even come up to his shoulder.”
What stood out about Brett to most people was his compassionate demeanor and sense of humor.
“He was a kind, caring person who would love to help out anyone,” said Hoy. “Brett was always the funny guy. He knew what to say to make you laugh. His humor, laugh, and smile will never be forgotten.”
Drea also indicated that Brett maintained a positive attitude in his battle against the disease.
“He was a fighter. He said until the day he died, ‘I’m going to fight this. I’m going to fight it,’” said Drea. “He was just truly, at least to me, an inspiration. I really admired his strength and his spirit.”
Drea said she hoped this event will be the start of an annual tradition that honors Brett.
“We just feel like it’s important for people to remember Brett and remember how much fun he was, and that his life was not defined by the leukemia,” she explained. “And maybe some people who didn’t know him will learn about him. And hopefully it will help raise awareness. I think people are afraid to talk about cancer. You don’t know what to say.”
There are numerous ways for people to get involved in the fight against cancer. Two excellent programs are Team in Training and Relay for Life, recommended by Drea and Hoy respectively.
“It’s just those types of things are really comforting, just knowing that there are other people out there who have experienced it,” Drea noted. “You can share your experience and not feel so alone.”
For questions about the race, sponsoring the event, or extra T-shirt orders, contact Sarah Drea at 319-330-7854 or dbsadrea@hotmail.com.