Families honor lost loved ones with 5K, charity events catered to coronavirus concerns

Chicago News

CHICAGO — It pays to remember those who can’t walk with you in person.

For the Gaskin family’s organization, it’s for memory and much more. Research, assistance with care and the hope for a cure.

“I started a foundation when my son Anthony passed away from brain cancer,” Katie Gaskin said.

The foundation is called ‘Anthony’s Avengers Defeat DIPG Foundation’, and was founded after Gaskin and her son Anthony received the grim diagnosis in 2016.

“DIPG is diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, and it is a brain tumor that occurs mostly in children and it’s in the pons of the brain stem,” Gaskin said.

The prognosis for those diagnosed is extremely bleak, with Gaskin mentioning a survival rate under one percent.

Gaskin was able to form a bond with others who had dealt with similar tragedies.

Gerri Neylon is an oncology nurse and the founder of Christmas Without Cancer, a non-profit that has raised more than $1 million to assist families dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

“I saw the struggles that these families were going through financially and emotionally and I decided to help one family at a time,” Neylon said.

Neylon and Gaskin formed a strong bond, built on the strength and story of Anthony, who passed away in March 2017.

For the past several years, Gaskin and her family have done this 5K, raising money for others as their team, ‘Anthony’s Avengers.’

“We’ve been through a lot. My boys have been through a lot and because of that, we just want to help other families so that they don’t have to go through what we went through,” Gaskin said.

As for other family members, the 5K helps bring back fond memories of a lost loved one.

“We think about him everyday, but with events like this where he gets a little bit more of a spotlight…it’s always good,” Anthony’s godfather Mike Gaskin said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s 5K is being operated a bit differently. Several groups are doing individual walks and runs throughout the South Side and Southwest Side to raise money.

Instead of the traditional group event at Klein Park, individuals will run “on their honor” across the area throughout this week.

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