Leah for Lia

Leah Fernandes Memorial 5k to support Lia Scagnoli who was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

In the second year of the Leah Fernandes Memorial 5k, yet another family will benefit from the generosity of Norton. 

This year, a portion of funds from the run will go toward helping 3-year-old Lia Scagnoli, daughter of Peter and Tara Scagnoli of Norton. Lia was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer and will soon undergo surgery and treatments.

“We hope it can help ease their minds just a bit,” Tracy said.

A team will be running in honor of Lia and selling orange team bracelets for $5 each on race day to support the family.

According to an update made by the Scagnoli family, Lia knows that 'Team Lia' exists.

‘She will often ask, ‘Mama, can you tell me again about all of the people that are thinking about me?’ This is as comforting to her as it is to our family. Our gratitude is immense for your continued support and thoughts,” Peter said.

The now annual event began after 5-year-old Leah Fernandes passed away July 26, 2011 from an aggressive form of cancer called medulloblastoma. Friends of the family Kate Tracy and Sally Junkins organize the event. They felt the need to help their friends, both having children close to Leah’s age.

“The motto of the Leah Fernandes Memorial Fund is ‘Helping Families & Funding Research,’” Tracy said. “What parent wants to leave their child's side while they are in the hospital? None. How many have to just to ensure that there is money for bills and basic necessities? More and more every day. It is the mission of the Leah Fernandes Memorial Fund to help families with basic needs so they don't have to worry about leaving their child. We want to give them at least a small amount of comfort knowing they don't have to worry about the electric bill, or the water bill, or even the gas to get back and forth to the hospital.”

The race, taking place Saturday, Sept. 29 at , Norton, is appropriately being held during Pediatric Cancer Awareness month. The event will start 8 a.m. while the race will begin 9:30 a.m.

The race starts and ends at J.C. Solmonese School. The route is a mix of flat and slight inclines traveling N. Worcester Street, to Eisenhower Street, to Guy Street, to John F. Kennedy Boulevard, back to N. Worcester Street to the school.

Following the 5k will be a kids fun run and a motorcycle ride. All children who wish to participate in the fun run must be registered. No pre-registration is necessary for the motorcycle ride. Motorcyclists will meet 9 a.m. at . Registration is $10 per bike the day of the event. There will be no additional charge for passengers. The ride departs 10:15 a.m. and ends at J.C. Solmonese Elementary School. For more information call Billy Whitten at 1-978-833-2209.

Family Fun Day activities will start 11 a.m. It will include vendors, sack races, face painting, football toss, ring toss, egg spoon runs, a bounce house, an inflatable basketball toss with two hoops for competition, hula hoop competitions, and music by DJ Steve Bishop.

One of Leah Fernandes' friends is also organizing the second annual clothing drive, Leah's Locker, to benefit New Hope shelter in Attleboro. Gently used men's, women's and children's clothing will be accepted at the 5k.

“It is so important to raise awareness for this. Not only for brain cancer, or kidney cancer, but for all cancers. It is estimated that 13,400 children between the ages of birth and 19 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer this year,” Tracy said, attributing the information to American Childhood Cancer Organization. “The more awareness we bring and the more funds we raise, is all the more research that can be done to help eliminate cancer.”

Their goal is to raise $10,000 this year through a combination of community sponsors, raffles and donations.

The Leah Fernandes Memorial 5k will accept sponsors through Sept. 15 to ensure their names get on the runner t-shirts. Those wishing to sponsor can contact Tracy 508-369-2032.

Pre-registration is $25 and can be done online. Click on the Register tab before midnight on Sept. 15 for the discount. Day of registration will be available 8 a.m. Sept. 29 and is $30. T-shirts will only be guaranteed for pre-registered participants.To donate or volunteer, visit www.leahfernandesmemorial5k.com and click on the Join Us tab.

“Last year our community rallied around the Fernandes family to help them, and the outpouring was amazing,” Tracy said. “It is our hope that the same outpouring of support will continue year to year.”


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