PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A Peoria man made a major donation on Thursday to fight childhood cancer.
Jim Clarahan, a partner at accounting firm RSM, presented a $1.15 million check to OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois and the The Heller Center for Kids with Cancer to help fight childhood brain cancer.
Clarahan founded Run 4 Dray in honor of his grandson Dray, who was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor at age one in 2019 and continues the battle to this day. The mission is to raise awareness to help doctors diagnose kids with brain cancer as soon as possible and raises money to help save lives.
Clarahan, said it’s been difficult watching his grandson battle cancer, and felt compelled to do something.
“It’s hell. Watching him go from where he was, the emaciation of his body as the cancer took hold and did its damage, to getting word on what the cancer was and what the treatment might be… and still battling it 4 years later… it’s been hell on earth,” he said.
Clarahan embarked on a cross-country journey on his Harley in 2020 and donated $80,000 to OSF Children’s Hospital.
For the past two years, the foundation has hosted an annual 5K run and walk called Papa’s Run/Ride 4 Dray. In 2021, 180 people participated virtually and in-person, raising $90,000 for the hospital.
This year, Papa’s Run/Ride 4 Dray was sponsored by OSF and 150 people participated. At $1.15 million, this year’s donation is 10 times more than last year’s.
Clarahan said he is blown away by the community support.
“I really am humbled by being part of this community. I had no idea the kind of support that I would get from new friends and old friends. Its just tremendous beyond my wildest dreams,” said Clarahan.
Clarahan said creating the foundation is empowering and has given him a sense of purpose.
“I had no idea, I thought I’d be one and done. And here I am, three years into it now and I’m thinking what’s in year four, what’s in year five? Can we make it bigger and better, and can we have a better impact?,” said Clarahan.
Clarahan announced a global fundraising drive for OSF Children’s Hospital to build awareness throughout Europe in 2023. He will drive his Harley through 40 countries in Europe from May through August 2023, stopping by RSM offices and children’s hospitals to spread Run 4 Dray’s message and awareness about OSF Heller Center. His goal is to raise $800,000.
“We’re closing chapter three and starting chapter four… it’s a long book to end childhood cancer,” said Clarahan.
The 2023 Papa’s Ride/Run 4 Dray will be on Sept. 16 during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.