BETHEL PARK (KDKA) -- When families are faced with a heartbreaking diagnosis, support from loved ones and the community is so important. A local family who suffered heartache turned their loss into hope for others.
There's something about a little competition and a lot of compassion that makes channeling one's superpowers easier.
There are the hulking helpers, the caped crusaders and masked marvels, but during the Joey Fabus Childhood Cancer Foundation's Annual Run Over DIPG at Bethel Park High School, everyone is a hero.
Joey passed away in 2015 after a courageous battle with DIPG, a brain cancer that, so far, is 100% fatal in children. He adored superheroes and aspired to be in law enforcement, even being sworn in as an honorary police officer.
He was buried in that uniform after a funeral procession through Mt. Lebanon unlike any other. And from the patrolmen and women, and even cadets in training, mom Cindy says they all show up every year as volunteers.
"The entire time Joey was sick and even after he died, the police forces in the area, Bethel Park, Allegheny County, the city, numerous, kind of all came together and supported him and just treated him like he was one of their own," Cindy said.
The race raises money for research to find a cure, but also to support families struggling with the same diagnosis. The honorary hero for 2023 was little Hazel Brown, who has DIPG too. Her heartwarming smile reflects her spirit, just like Joey's. Hazel couldn't make it to race day, but her family of warriors was there to represent.
"To be able to connect with other families that are going through this or who have gone through this and are using this as a platform ... let people know all about it and what they've been through and also provide support and encouragement for one another," said Elena Jones, Hazel Brown's great aunt.
The families are connected by a heartbreaking realization, but also dedicated to hope and healing.
"The more awareness that there is, the better chance is that they're gonna find something," Jones said.
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