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Runners Help Raise Money For Families Battling Tough Odds

By Joel Hillan

Hundreds of people came together for the first ever Walk for Wishes 5K Run at Hudson Gardens in Littleton Saturday morning. CBS4 was a proud sponsor of the charity event and CBS4 Sports' Mark Haas emceed.

(credit: CBS)

LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) - In June, Nelsen and Carrina Waneka's 3-year-old daughter Piper was diagnosed with a rare disease called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).

"I had a totally normal life and then one day my child was diagnosed with cancer and everything changed at that moment," said Nelsen.

Carrina recounted the moment she heard the news.

"I just will never forget that moment where they said the words 'We found a mass in her brain stem.' I mean, that's heartbreaking and it's confusing."

The cancerous tumor is only found in children and currently has no cure or treatment.

"When my daughter Piper was diagnosed I told myself that day that I only wanted to do one thing which was make her laugh every single day, and I have," said Nelsen.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation helped Dad with his promise, granting Piper's wish to go to Disney World.

10-year-old Olivia was granted a similar wish -- she's going for Thanksgiving.

"Olivia was diagnosed a couple of days after Christmas with acute kidney failure," explained Olivia's father Dan Michon.

That meant long trips from Monument to Children's Hospital Colorado for dialysis treatments until a few months ago, when her mom gave her one of her kidneys. Olivia has responded well.

Among the friends, families and community members participating in the Walk for Wishes 5K Run was Preston. He was just 5 when cancer was found throughout his tiny body. He was granted a wish, and today at 15, and cancer free, he ran to help grant a wish for others.

"I've dedicated a lot of my life to helping those other kids with lots of other illnesses to either have a wish or go to summer camp or find new treatments for their cancers," Preston said.

Preston's team originally had a goal of raising $1,000, they ended up raising $10,000.

Altogether, Saturday's event raised $75,000 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.

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