DIVWEST father, son run to annihilate childhood cancer
July 3, 2014
FORT HOOD, Texas -- A staff officer and his son recently created a superhero and hosted a 5-Kilometer Run/Walk in Grenada, Mississippi, raising awareness and funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
"When I first saw all of the amazing work that St. Jude was doing, I knew that my son and I had to be part of this," said Maj. Tony Winters, deputy logistics officer at First Army Division West.
"Each year we try as a family to do charity work, but after speaking to my son Braden about St. Jude, we agreed to make this our every year, all year mission to help fight childhood cancer."
Winters and Braden, 12, created a character called the "Annihilator of Childhood Cancer" and also founded The Annihilator Running Club with friends to host the inaugural 5-kilometer Run/Walk, Kid's Race, and Easter Egg Hunt during April at Grenada High School in Grenada, Mississippi.
Winters approached family, friends, and local businesses in his hometown of Grenada to get support and sponsorship. From TLAB Clothing, owned by a high school classmate, Juan Shawn Green, to the Belle Flower Missionary Baptist Church, and even a local pizzeria, Lost Pizza Company, over 50 people assembled for an all-volunteer team which planned, coordinated, and put on the inaugural event.
"Our family, friends, church, and entire Grenada community taught me the power of what can be accomplished by the passion of a few people with good hearts can do," Winters said. "It further taught me how giving people from Mississippi naturally are."
The first of planned annual Annihilator 5-K races raised $2,366 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, named the "Kid's Race for Blake Kendall," after a local child suffering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (A.L.L.) being treated at St. Jude, and held a 2,500 Easter egg hunt.
"My heart goes out to the children suffering from any childhood cancer; it seems so unfair," Winters said. "The truth is that this could be any of our families affected by cancer and for St. Jude to do this work at no charge to the families, it is my honor to be able to help."
An avid runner, Winters has taken part in over 100 full marathons, half-marathons, 10- and 5-K races, and is elated to see how Braden is running in his footsteps, tackling his third 5-K race. The elder Winters hopes to make running the family sport.
First Army Division West is a multi-component training Division which mobilized 214 units and 15,503 Soldiers and demobilized 295 units and 19,349 Soldiers during 2013. These units ran the gamut from general officer headquarters to small detachments and included missions ranging from Sustainment, Aviation, Engineer, Military Police, Air Defense Artillery and Medical in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and other operations around the world.