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Southwest Greensburg run draws a bead on cancer

| Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, 7:47 p.m.

As a sick first-grader, Timmy Creamer loved getting and making colorful beaded necklaces while a patient at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, his parents remembered.

For that reason, some of the money raised from the fifth annual Timmy's Race for Children's, held last month in Southwest Greensburg, will go to the Beads for Courage program, said Tim and Noele Creamer.

With the program, each child is given a length of string and beads that spell out their first name.

They then get colorful beads, each representing a different treatment milestone that they can add to the string.

“It's given to help kids get through a procedure,” Tim Creamer said. “They think of it as a positive experience, not ‘I'm getting chemotherapy treatment today or another surgery.'”

Timmy, 11, was diagnosed with Burkitts lymphoma when he was 6 years old.

He spent six months in and out of Children's in Lawrenceville, where he underwent chemotherapy for the cancer — a rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma — and three surgeries.

He has been in remission since then, his father said.

To thank Children's staff for their care, Timmy's parents sponsor the run every year.

“We know there are children continuing to be diagnosed with cancer,” Noele Creamer said. “It's a ... reality.”

This year, the charity run/walk raised $3,500 and drew 135 participants, including 115 runners, Tim Creamer said.

About $1,000 will go to the Beads for Courage program, he said. The remainder will be spent on pillow pets — fluffy pillows made to look like animals — or Nerf guns or whatever hospital officials decide the patients on the oncology floor want.

The number of participants on July 27 was similar to last year's turnout, Tim Creamer said.

“It's on par with what we've had in the past,” he said. “I think weather played a part. It was kind of a gloomy, rainy Saturday.

“But we're pleased with the turnout, and the nice amount of money for the toys.”

The fundraiser made sense since he works as Seton Hill University's track and cross-country coach, Tim Creamer said.

“As far as next year, the plans are to have another race,” Tim Creamer said.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or