Parents pushing strollers, runners donning short shorts, BYU basketball players dressed as Batman, and countless others all gathered at the starting line of the annual Rex Lee Run on March 11, 2017.
The run was organized in 1996 to honor BYU president Rex E. Lee, who passed away from cancer that year. All funds raised by the Rex Lee Run go toward supporting the Simmons Center for Cancer Research, an organization composed of BYU professors and students dedicated to finding the cure.
“Today we run for people like my Grandpa Rex,” Lee’s grandson James Lee said in the opening ceremonies. “Today we run for hope.”
Each year, an increasing number of participants show up to the event to show their support for those who suffer and have suffered from cancer, according to host of BYU Sports Nation Spencer Linton.
“We expect a record number once again as we look to grow this event from year to year,” Linton said. “As we go throughout the Rex Lee Run today, let us remember those past and present cancer fighters in our lives.”
First-time participant T-Ray McClees lost his best friend to cancer—one of the reasons why McClees decided to run in the race.
“He was young. He was thirty-three,” McClees said. “They don’t know what type of cancer it was because it was so bad by the time they caught it, they didn’t know where it started.”
According to the Rex Lee Run website, over $450,000 has been raised for the Simmons Center since the event’s official organization in 1996. During the opening ceremonies, Cheryl Rose, wife of BYU basketball coach Dave Rose, encouraged participants to do all they can to help increase that amount. Her own sister passed away from cancer four years ago.
“Next year, I want each of you to bring ten of your friends with you, and then we can truly, truly make a difference,” Rose said. “I want you to do all that you can to help eradicate this terrible disease.”
Those looking to volunteer or participate in next year’s event can visit rexleerun.byu.edu for more information.