Eleven-year-old Will Busby first heard of CureSearch’s Ultimate Hike seven years ago, when his father, Jeff, starting raising funds and training for a 28.3-mile trek to be completed in one day. The family was well aware of the need for funding for children’s cancer research, as four-year-old Will had been diagnosed with high risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia on in 2011.
“More funding for research is critical. One in eight children diagnosed with cancer won’t survive, and of those who do, 60% will develop lifelong side effects,” said Brecka Putnam, senior manager of campaign development. “Only four treatments have been developed specifically for children in the past twenty years. We need more treatments for children to improve patient outcomes.”
The Busby’s have been actively involved in research since his diagnosis. Will participated in a CureSearch funded clinical to help further research, and Jeff laced up his boots and raised funds through the Ultimate Hike program. Jeff continued hiking and coaching new hikers, and Will continued fighting cancer for years finally the family celebrated his “no more chemo day” on May 6, 2014.
Although Will is officially done fighting cancer, he’s chosen to spend his 12th birthday volunteering on the hike to show his support for all the kids who are in treatment now. “He now seems to be dealing with the experience in a way that makes it a positive part of his story,” said Jeff Busby.
Volunteering for an Ultimate Hike is no small feat. Jeff will spend the day on the trail, coaching other hikers and setting them up for success. Meanwhile, Will’s day will be spent loading and unloading vans, filling up hikers’ water packs, cleaning, and cheering on hikers. The first volunteers will report for duty before 2:00 a.m., and the last volunteers on the trail could load up as late as 9:00 p.m.
“We’re so excited to have Will spend the day with us. It can be exhausting, and many kids would prefer to spend their birthday hanging out with friends, rather than making sandwiches for 70 people in the middle of the woods. We’re so thankful,” said Putnam. “Having someone that young who beat cancer out there on the trail will give our hikers the motivation they need when the going gets tough.”
In addition to volunteering with CureSearch, Jeff is a chaplain and leader for Will’s trail life troop, he also backpacks with the group once a month, all year round. He is looking forward to introducing Will to a new group of hikers in a few weeks.
To learn more about CureSearch’s Ultimate Hike, visit www.ultimatehike.org/foothills. To make a donation in honor of Will’s birthday, text CURE to 56512.
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