Somebody needs to give Christian Kirby a cape…he’s a hero.
A St. Jude Hero.
And my child’s principal.
Principal Appreciation Day is coming up and instead of gifts, some of the parents at the school are taking up a collection to help him raise money for the children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital…and the children who may some day end up there.
Mr. Kirby is all about the kids. After all, you kind of have to like them at least a little if you’re going to be an elementary school principal. But to make Principal Appreciation Day all about children you’ll probably never meet….well that’s pretty amazing.
And then, on top of it all, to run a half-marathon in another state, through that hospital property, as part of a fundraiser for these little warriors, yeah—that pretty much makes you a hero in my book.
And to everyone else at St. Jude, too.
In fact, anyone who runs the St. Jude Marathon, Half-Marathon, 10k, or 5k earns the St. Jude ‘Hero’ title.
Mr. Kirby makes it an annual tradition. The run taking place this December will be his 8th or 9th…he can’t really remember because one year, the race was cancelled due to ice and dangerous conditions, and another year, he couldn’t run, but still went to cheer the others on while they took part.
His family goes, too, with his 11 and 13 year olds running the 5k. His wife is there, as well.
He says it all started nearly a decade ago, when his brother told him about a friend’s child who had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. That child, Andrew Vassil, was receiving treatment at St. Jude. He was just six years old. Like every other patient at the hospital, Andrew wasn’t being billed for the help. At St. Jude, no one gets a bill.
That’s partly because of heroes like Mr. Kirby.
He runs with a group of people that call themselves Team Andrew. And even though Andrew is now in college, a thriving 20 year old who is doing well, the team still runs, for other children who will have to fight for their lives, too.
His team has raised more than half a million dollars, and Mr. Kirby has already raised more than 40-thousand dollars in donations for St. Jude with his runs through the years. This year alone, he wants to add another ten-thousand dollars to his share of donations. So, some of the parents at his school are organizing a donation pool in his honor, asking for donations in lieu of gifts for Principal Appreciation Day. I guess you could say we’ve become his students as he teaches us all a lesson in selflessness.
He admits this trip is an investment each year—and costs his family quite a bit to get there. They could probably go to Disney instead—after all, it’s the most magical place in the world, right? Well, Mr. Kirby says no. He believes St. Jude is the most magical place in the world, thanks to the miracles they perform each and every day for sick children.
He points out that it’s those kids who keep motivating him to go back year after year. During the run, they come out of their hospital rooms, waving to the participants, holding signs calling the runners heroes.
Mr. Kirby says it’s those children, fighting for their lives, who are the real heroes, even if St. Jude gives him the title for the day.
If you’d like to help contribute, here’s the link to donate in Mr. Kirby’s name: http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=2003502&pg=personal&fr_id=40881