Students fight cancer with 5K run

In an attempt to raise money and awareness for one of the least-known forms of childhood cancer, a group of Boston University students is raising money and recruiting runners for a 5K run and walk at the end of the month.

“It will be put toward research that will hopefully lead to a cure for this potentially devastating disease,” 5K for JPA co-coordinator Ryan Impagliazzo said.

The Sept. 30 race, sponsored by BU FightJPA, will raise money and awareness for research of Juvenile Polycystic Astrocytoma, the most common form of childhood brain tumors. After the race, all participants will gather for the Finish Line Festival for music, games and prizes.

Participants will run through Esplanade along the Charles River, beginning near the BU Sailing Pavilion and finishing at the a festival in the Sargent Activities Center.

The event, which has been in the works since February, is part of a fundraising effort for the Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation, according to Impagliazzo, a School of Management sophomore.

According to the FightJPA website, the money donated to the foundation will be applied to grants for scientists nationwide to accelerate research and treatments for the disease.

JPA, which can affect children and young adults up to 35 years old, has received little attention, funding or research, according to FightJPA Co-President Jason Kahn.

“There are approximately 1,100 new cases of JPA per year in children under 20,” the School of Management sophomore said. “[It] is the most common children’s brain tumor, yet has been under-funded and under-researched. By having the event at BU, we hope to raise awareness on this disease as well as raise funds for research into gentler treatments.”

Treatments for JPA include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but because the tumor can be located near centers for vital signs, thought, emotion, movement and sensory development, the side effects of these treatments, especially chemotherapy and radiation, can be devastating, according to the website. The non-profit, all-volunteer Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation funds research toward safer, more effective therapies for these tumors.

The upcoming race is open to the general public as well as university students. All members can register online at for $20 until Sept. 25. This fee includes a spot in the run and walk, a commemorative T-shirt and admission to the Finish Line Festival, where prizes will be awarded.

College of Arts and Sciences freshman Lauren Sereci, who will be participating in the run, said she took an interest in the event because of the lack of publicity about this type of tumor.

“I decided to run the race because the cause is not very well known,” she said. “Childhood diseases can be the worst, and running a 5K with a bunch of college students shows that we are not only aware, but want to help and change how JPA and other childhood cancers are viewed.”

Sereci is also contributing to the run financially.

“I am going to personally give 50 dollars of my own money, and my uncle is also raising money for me since I am not currently being sponsored, but I would be more than happy to accept any sponsorships,” she said. “5Ks are a great way to promote help and raise money all at once, and it is also a personal challenge and an overall amazing experience.”

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