Brady’s Fun Run: A Family’s Lasting Tribute to Their Son
The death of a child; there is nothing worse for a parent. Finding ways to keep their memory alive can be a challenge – but it can also be a useful way to help friends and family heal move forward. John and Jennifer Bukowski are creating a lasting memorial for their son Brady, whose brief life was ended cruelly and suddenly by a glioblastoma, an invasive, incurable brain tumor, in 2012. “He was only sick a couple of weeks,” Jennifer recalls of Brady’s death.
As outdoorsy Lebanon residents, John and Jennifer knew about the Skip Matthews Memorial Run held each year around Father’s Day. Skip had also died of a glioblastoma, and the run was established in 2002 with the goal of raising money for brain cancer research. In addition to the serious four-mile run, there is a one-mile Fun Run (or Walk); in 2013 the Fun Run was dedicated to Brady, and now it’s held every year as an occasion to remember him.
“We hope people use it as a nice way to connect with friends and family,” says Jennifer. Last year about 115 people signed up for the Brady’s Fun Run, which is free. Donations by runners and corporate sponsors help fund research done at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Over the years the event has raised more than $200,000. Salt hill Pub sponsors a popular post-race barbecue.
“The wholepoint of Skip’s Run is that it’s a family event,” notes Jennifer, “kids doing something with their dad.” Some of the 400 to 500 people who run the 4-mile course are serious runners who run to beat the clock, and each other, but a light-hearted spirit bathes the event. Brady’s Fun Run starts and finishes at Colburn Park. Runners head down Bank street to the old junior high school, then return along the rail trail.
The event “seems like the right thing to do,” says John. “We remember Brady that day in particular, and get together with our community.” John serves on the Skip’s Run board.
John and Jennifer remember the fun things they did with Brady, such as Wiffle Ball, fishing, hiking, and watching sports. They enjoy some of these activities now with their son Bailey, who will be five in April. Two years ago, says John, “I carried Bailey on my head, but last year he ran Brady’s Fun Run on his own.”
Remembering Brady is important. “One thing that bothers any parent of a child who dies is worrying that people will forget him,” says Jennifer. “Brady was just four years old when he died; he’s already been dead for six years. We use this race as way to raise money for brain tumor research, be with friends and family, and keep his memory alive.”
Registration for the 2018 Brady’s Fun Run and the Skip’s race will open soon. If you are interested in participating in this fun event, please visit skipsrun.org to register.