On the day that would have been Sophie Quayle’s 8th birthday, more than 1,000 family members, friends and strangers gathered at in Avon Lake in honor of a little girl who died too young.
Sophie, who died at age 4 on Oct. 6, 2007 from pediatric brain cancer, was born on the Fourth of July. It is only fitting that the annnual , now in its fourth year, is a celebration of her brief life. The 2011 5K race and accompanying 1-mile walk drew approximately 1,000 participants and several hundred more volunteers and supporters with the end goal of raising money for brain cancer and families with children affected with pediatric brain cancer.
“Today is July 4th and it’s an important day for two reasons,” Sophie’s father, Marc Quayle, said before the race. “It’s Sophie’s birthday so this race is really about celebrating Sophie’s birthday but it’s also the biggest fundraiser for Smiles for Sophie Forever.”
Smiles For Sophie Forever, started in 2008, has donated more than $200,000 including. That money is earmarked not just for research, but to assist families who are experiencing what the Quayle family, including Marc’s wife Emily and Sophie’s sister Sarah, went through. That includes $160,440 in family grants, $32,000 to The Cure Starts Now Foundation and $15,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
This year’s Bash and Dash went off without a hitch. At the starting line, the runners, walkers and volunteers sang Happy Birthday to Sophie before heading out through the park and onto a course that included a run past the Quayle’s Westwinds home in Avon Lake. There, walkers dropped red, white and blue carnations on the treelawn that was decorated with balloons and “Happy Birthday Sophie” signs.
The bash and dash also include a cookout, children’s games, a 50-yard dash for the younger children and bounce houses. A DJ kept the crowd moving throughout the morning.