By Jim McLaughlin, Wish Dad
Editor’s note: Wish Kid Alex McLaughlin, 11, is running his first Boilermaker 5K via the Charity Bib Program. This will be Alex’s first time with Team Make-A-Wish; his dad, Jim, has run with the team since 2014.
My wife Bonnie and I both started running the Boilermaker about 15 years ago. We have missed a few years here and there, but have each done several 5K’s and 15K’s. If not for the Make-A-Wish Charity Bib, we would probably both be retired from running.
Our son Alex was diagnosed on August 24, 2011 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He completed treatment on his 10th birthday, October 24, 2014. Throughout his treatment we became aware of many different charities and fundraisers benefitting many sick children and their families. Make-A-Wish was obviously a major one that granted Alex’s wish to meet his favorite baseball team in 2012.
In 2013, we became aware of the Boilermaker Charity Bib Program, which helped support Make-A-Wish. We thought it would be a great way for us to help another kid who needed a wish.
So, in 2014 I signed up for the Boilermaker through Charity Bib. We had many friends and family who vowed to support the effort and help us raise the money. One of Bonnie’s ideas was to sell “Team Alex” t-shirts that included the motto “No One Fights Alone.” Many of the people who were very supportive of Alex during his treatment, continued by supporting the team. Some as Boilermaker runners, some as spectators. As can be seen on Boilermaker Sunday, Alex did not have to fight alone. After having so much support in 2014 we did not have to think long about continuing in 2015. Again we had a lot of support from family and friends, many running the 5K or 15K, or cheering on the runners in their “Team Alex” shirts.
In 2016, they will be able to cheer for Alex himself, who has decided to run his first ever Boilermaker 5K race with the Make-A-Wish charity bib team. As many runners know, the support from the Boilermaker crowd is a huge boost during the race. Alex already knows what it’s like to have a lot of people cheering for him, and the sense of accomplishment for a major victory. We now look forward to seeing him experience it as a Boilermaker runner, and as a supporter of the next kid who needs a wish.
It’s our hope that Alex’s story will encourage someone else.