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Angels Among Us 5K and Family Fun Walk Benefit the Brain Tumor Center at Duke

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, N.C. -- Justin Straus acts like a normal second grader. He plays basketball on the weekends and enjoys spending time with his buddies. But life hasn't been exactly normal for Justin, a student at Durham Academy, since he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2002.

Each year, more than 20,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with a primary brain tumor, and about 2,900 of those are children. Last year, Justin underwent eight neurosurgeries in a five-month span. He is currently being treated for his brain tumor, and in December received a better-than-expected checkup.

"The really amazing part about Justin's story is how his school and his classmates have rallied together to support him," said Heather Lee, Justin's mother.

Last year, Durham Academy organized a team that took part in the Angels Among Us event. The team raised more than $7,700. "We are direct recipients of the generosity of people who have contributed to the Brain Tumor Center at Duke," Lee said. "From research, family support and child life services, Justin has benefited and is able to lead the normal life of an 8-year-old boy. This year, Justin can participate in the walk as a part of the team named in his honor, Justin's Buddies."

The 11th annual Angels Among Us 5K and Family Fun Walk will be held on Saturday, April 24, at Wallace Wade Stadium on the Duke University campus, to raise money for brain tumor research.

In 2003, $362,000 was raised. All proceeds benefit brain tumor research at Duke.

More than 1,200 participants from across the country are expected to participate in this year's event, and many come to honor or memorialize a special person in their lives.

"Teams at Mangum Elementary, Little River Elementary, Kerr-Vance Academy and Carolina Friends School participate in this event," said Dorrys McArdle, Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center's special events director. "Over the years, each of these schools has felt the impact of a student, teacher or staff member who has battled a brain tumor or whose family member has battled a brain tumor. The children and parents and teachers put their hearts and souls into raising money. It's truly inspirational to see how hard these kids work. That's what makes this event so special."

Sarah Morton, Durham native, elementary school teacher and mother of two young children, was diagnosed with a brain tumor two years ago. She died March 1.

"We came out and walked with Sarah last year," said Sarah's mother, Brenda Maulden. "This year, we're especially touched because the walk is being dedicated in Sarah's memory. We renamed our walking team Sarah's Angels and continue to be amazed by how many people have volunteered to come out and be a part of our team. This walk has become a new focus for me -- a chance to do something positive in the midst of tragedy. It's what we needed."

Registration begins at 7 a.m. for the 5K race, and at 9 a.m. for the walk. The certified 5K race starts at 8 a.m. and winds through Duke's West Campus, while the family fun walk through the Sarah P. Duke Gardens begins at 10:45 a.m. The event will feature many family activities, including music, food, local sports mascots, face painting and arts and crafts.

Prizes will be awarded to the first- and second-place male and female race winners and to the top 10 fundraisers. All participating children receive prizes and ribbons. There is a $20 registration fee. Participants are encouraged to raise a minimum of $150.

For additional information, contact Dorrys McArdle at (919) 667-2616 or mcard002@mc.duke.edu, or visit http://www.angelsamongus.org.

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