Chemistry and Biochemistry

Rex Lee Run 2016

Posted: Mar 22, 2016

On March 12, 2016, over 1,500 people gathered at the BYU track to raise money for cancer research and to run together in support of loved ones. The 2016 Rex Lee Run for cancer research is an annual race held in honor of BYU’s tenth president, Rex E. Lee, who succumbed to cancer during his term at the university. Lee’s granddaughter, Stephanie Paulsen, spoke at the run's opening ceremonies with BYU’s men’s basketball coach (and cancer survivor) Dave Rose.

Most of the runners came to support loved ones who have battled or are currently battling the disease. Many chose to donate extra and have the names of their loved ones featured on signs along the course.

“I loved seeing all the honor-a-cancer fighter signs,” said SCCR program coordinator Edward Pimentel. “I was impressed that so many people made extra donations to honor the people they knew.”

Others wrote the names of their cancer-fighters on a large “I am running for . . .” banner near the track.

“I am running for my brother and for my friend’s stepmom,” said Candace Lesueur, as she signed the poster. “They go through it with a lot of courage, and a way for me to support them is to run.”

Other new features of the run included a 1K race option (so families of all ages could experience the run together), and different colored t-shirts for survivors and caretakers.  Sarah Kay Miller wore her survivor's t-shirt and crossed the finish line with her husband, Derek, in triumph. The Millers' inspirational story from last year's "Runners Remember" campaign can be found here.

Though most runners wore the official Rex Lee Run t-shirts, some groups made their own t-shirts to honor a specific cancer fighter. Dozens of employees of MX, a local software company, came to support their CTO, Brandon Dewitt, who is fighting cancer. Each of Dewitt’s supporters wore a matching t-shirt with the slogan “Just Dewitt.”

All the proceeds from the will be used to fund summer fellowships in the BYU Simmons Center for Cancer Research (SCCR). The fellowship program allows students to jumpstart their careers in oncology with hands-on experience. Because many of the students have also watched friends and family suffer from cancer, they are incredibly passionate and committed to their research—research made possible by the Rex Lee Run.

“We had a very successful year,” said race director Emily Sorensen. “We raised just over $55,000, which is around $7,000 more than last year.”

“It was great to see the community come together to support the students who are studying cancer research here at BYU,” added Pimentel. “We look forward to the 2016 fellowship program and the research that will be funded by the proceeds of this year’s Rex Lee Run.”

Countless organization and individual volunteers made the race possible. Namify, a branding company in Springville, printed the official t-shirts at a discount and provided an advertising campaign. Students from the Myotherapy College of Utah offered free massages after the race.

The race's title sponsors, Jim and Tana Evans, provided the sound equipment and DJ services. Food was donated by Einstein Bagels, Walmart, Sam’s Club, WinCo Foods, Fresh Market, and Mountainland Apples. BYU’s Cancer Awareness Group (CAG) organized volunteers from the community to bring it all together. One of CAG’s members, Noah Christian, even provided his epic bagpipe skills to herald the start of the race.

“Over all, it was a success!” said Sorensen. “And we are looking forward to next year to make it even bigger and better.”