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Running to celebrate lives taken too soon
By Joel Kaphengst | Guest Columnist

Amy Kaphengst first participated in This Run's For Jack 5K in 2005 shortly after her melanoma cancer recurred. The "I can, I will, I believe" slogan on her shirt suits the positive mood of the event.


Courtesy of Joel Kaphengst

Amy Kaphengst ran the race in 2005 with her family, who continue to run in her honor. Her husband, Joel, and daughters Erica, now 12, and Emily, now 9, are part of the largest team to compete last year.


Courtesy of Joel Kaphengst

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Published: 10/16/2009 12:03 AM | Updated: 10/16/2009 10:32 AM

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If you go

What: This Run's For Jack 5K Run/Walk

Why: Proceeds go to the Jack H. Marston II Melanoma Fund, which offers awareness programs and supports melanoma research

When: Check-in begins at 6 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 18; 5K begins at 8 a.m. with breakfast and awards after

Where: Ackerman Park, St. Charles Road at Riford Road, Glen Ellyn

Cost: Donations encouraged

Info: or (708) 205-5692

Each weekend thousands of people take to the streets of our communities, walking and running to raise money for charities. Every one of them has found a cause to believe in, a bit of hope through helping. And every one of them has a reason for being there.

On Sunday, Oct. 18, Joel Kaphengst of Hoffman Estates and his daughters will take part in This Run's for Jack, a 5K in Glen Ellyn that fights melanoma cancer. Along the way, the family will celebrate the life of Joel's wife, Amy, who died after a seven-year fight with melanoma.

Today, Joel describes his wife's battle and how the run makes a difference.

This will be the fifth year my daughters and I participate in the This Run's for Jack 5K Run/Walk that benefits the Jack H. Marston II Melanoma Fund.

Jack's Fund,, raises money and provides programs to raise melanoma awareness, fund melanoma research and promote healing for families and patients suffering from melanoma cancer. Jack's Fund was started in 2004, after melanoma took the life of Jack H. Marston II.

For our family, it all started back in January 2005. That's when my beautiful wife Amy's melanoma cancer recurred. She had originally found a quarter-sized mole on her left hip in August 2000 - a few months after our second daughter, Emily, was born - and it was determined to be melanoma.

Due to the size and depth of the mole, Amy needed further diagnostic surgery, which concluded that the melanoma had spread. Under the care of Dr. Jon Richards at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, Amy had a lymph node dissection followed by year of interferon treatments. Biannual scans came back cancer free until January 2005 when the melanoma recurred in her lung. So once again we were placed on the treadmill of cancer treatment.

It was after the recurrence in 2005 that Amy found out about This Run's for Jack through Dr. Richards' office. She viewed the race as a way to fight back and as a source of hope.

Amy gathered a big group of family and friends to join her at the race and support the great work Jack's Fund was doing.

The morning of the run, we got to Ackerman Park in Glen Ellyn very early to check in and enjoy the morning activities, like the pre-race information about melanoma by Dr. Richards and the pre-race stretch. There were even free skin checks provided by local dermatologists. The atmosphere is one of fun and companionship, almost family-like. We enjoyed the event so much, we planned to make it an annual family event.

Although Amy was too sick to participate in the event in 2006 and lost her battle to melanoma cancer on Jan. 6, 2007, my daughters and I and our friends and family continue to participate in This Run's For Jack each year. It is a tangible way to celebrate Amy's life, and it has grown in size each year as more families join the fight against melanoma.

Last year, organizers added a Team Challenge Event and I am proud to say Amy's Team won the Largest Team award. I feel this is both a tribute to Amy and her wonderful spirit and to Jack's Run for creating an atmosphere where families feel good gathering to remember and to celebrate.

It is an event filled with positive energy and hope. If you are a runner or a walker and looking for a 5k on Sunday, Oct. 18, come join us for the sixth annual This Run's For Jack. I guarantee you will enjoy yourself and feel good about raising money for an excellent cause.