Fun run in memory of lost son

LOUISE RISK
Last updated 10:32 19/11/2012
DREAM CHASERS: Keri and Ryan Topperwien are having a fundraising ‘‘Marrow-thon’’ fun run for the charity they have established in memory of their son, Chace.
CHRIS HILLOCK

DREAM CHASERS: Keri and Ryan Topperwien are having a fundraising ‘‘Marrow-thon’’ fun run for the charity they have established in memory of their son, Chace.

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Whatever the weather, the sun will shine at Hamilton Lake next week.

Because on Saturday, November 24, a "yellow brigade" of walkers and runners will circuit the lake between one and three times in the inaugural Marrow-thon fun run.

Keri and Ryan Topperwien have organised the fun run as a fundraiser for Dream Chaser Foundation, which they set up in memory of their son, Chace.

Three-year-old Chace lost his 15-month battle with acute myeloid leukaemia in June, and since then his parents have been working to support other families facing childhood cancer, and to raise awareness about bone marrow donation.

"I wouldn't feel right doing anything else," Mrs Topperwien said.

"I wouldn't be able to concentrate."

She was working fulltime on the charity, while Mr Topperwien was working fulltime installing joinery and helping out when he could.

Having been through every stage of childhood cancer with Chace, the Topperwiens have been able to reflect on what helped and what would have helped, and were focusing the charity's goals and funds accordingly.

One of the difficulties they faced with Chace was finding a suitable bone morrow donor, despite there being 19 million people on the international registry.

"With ethnic minority groups the chance of finding a match drops significantly," Mrs Topperwien said.

"There's a shortage of Maori and Pacific Island donors."

In Chace's case his Maori ancestry meant the family went through the heartache of not being able to find a marrow donor, but the joy of learning an umbilical cord stored in Australia 12 years ago was a match.

The couple know of one person who had been asked to give bone marrow since they registered because of Chace, and hoped many more would take the time to join the database.

"People know about donating blood but they don't know so much about donating marrow."

They said people could be added to the database when donating blood, but were under no obligation if they were contacted and their circumstances had changed.

"We just want people to ask the question."

The Topperwiens said helping others was helping them through each day without their cheeky little boy, and small things like looking at the foundation's yellow sun logo - taken with permission from Chace's favourite yellow Huffer T-shirt - helped them smile through the pain.

THE DETAILS

The Hamilton Marrow-thon Fun Run 2012 is on Saturday, November 24, starting at Innes Common at 10am.

To find out more, to enter or to register a family that could benefit from Dream Chaser Foundation's services go to dreamchaser.co.nz

For more information about bone marrow donation go to bonemarrow.org.nz

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- Waikato Times

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