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July 28, 2010 >> back to issue

Race 2 Cure PH - The Taylor Caffrey Memorial 5K Run/Walk

Michael, Shari and Brooke Caffrey address the Race 2 Cure PH crowd.Michael, Shari and Brooke
Caffrey address the Race
2 Cure PH crowd.
On June 5, the inaugural Race 2 Cure PH - Taylor Caffrey Memorial 5K Run/Walk was held in Anaheim Hills, Calif. The event honored the life of four-year-old Taylor who lost her battle to PH in September 2009. Taylor’s parents, Michael and Shari, planned and hosted the fundraiser that consisted of a timed run, walk, raffle and a variety of games and activities. The event was the result of Michael’s and Shari’s desire to both celebrate their young daughter’s spirit and find a cure for the disease that took her life so prematurely.

Prior to the race, the Caffreys told Taylor’s story to as many people as possible and, with the help of their planning committee, they secured numerous corporate sponsorships and donations, widely publicized the event and received the support of countless individuals, many of whom were complete strangers. Along the way, an entire community became aware of PH and personally connected to Taylor’s story. The outcome of the Caffrey’s tireless effort was more than anyone could have expected: the event drew over 600 participants and has raised over $28,000 to date to support PHA’s Research Programs.

Inspired by all that Shari and her family were able to accomplish, we asked her to speak with us about her experience.

Ready, Set, Go! 5K participants are off and running.Ready, Set, Go! 5K participants are off and running.When asked why she and Michael chose to hold a run/walk, Shari talked about the importance of the event being personal and heartfelt. An event like this was especially meaningful because Shari cherished her daily walks with her twin girls, Taylor and Brooke, in their stroller. She said, “Mommy always walked the girls.” Spending time with family was also one of Taylor’s greatest joys, and a run/walk allowed for a family-oriented event in which the entire community could participate.

It was truly their personal passion for the cause that motivated the Caffrey family to invest every ounce of their energy into the event. Aside from this underlying drive, we asked Shari if there was anything in the planning or approach that contributed to the end result. Her response was simple: it was just a matter of hard work and getting things done. The family received an immense amount of support from the local community by doing just that: going door-to-door to local businesses, handing out brochures and adding the personal touch to their fundraising and marketing strategies. Michael and Shari were able to get a professionally-developed website, Taylor's Wish, donated in order to promote the race and allow people to get to know Taylor. These opportunities connected people to the cause and, as Shari attested, contributed to the “buzz” created in the weeks leading up to the event, and ultimately the event’s impact on the PH community.

All in all, Shari credited her husband with constantly driving them to think big. While the planning process felt daunting at times, they found the adage, you never know until you ask, to play a large part in their own planning. “What does it hurt?” she said.

Taylor’s Wish merchandise is proudly displayed for sale at the event.Taylor’s Wish merchandise is proudly displayed for
sale at the event.
Shari also attributed the event’s overall success to those who stood by her side and pitched in along the way. The Caffreys had a five-person planning committee, consisting of family and close friends, who each brought a variety of talents and skills to the planning process. Most importantly though, everyone on the committee had a heartfelt reason for being there and truly shared the same motivation, drive and goals. This collective focus was evident in the fact that a picture of Taylor was on the table during every committee meeting, inspiring every decision that was made.

Challenges and obstacles certainly arose along the way. Shari candidly expressed how challenging it was to plan a large scale walk/run in just four months. Particularly given the fact that it was a first-time event, all the groundwork, preliminary planning and deadlines kept the Race 2 Cure PH committee busy! However, through a “teamwork” mentality, the challenges were more than worth it given the outcome, and planning has already begun for the 2nd Annual Race 2 Cure PH which will be held Saturday, June 4, 2011.

Shari spoke about the overall feeling of accomplishment and looking to the future when she said:

“[The most rewarding aspect was] the feeling of ‘we did this’. We accomplished what we wanted to. We got Tay’s story out there and now people know what PH is and they’ll come back next year and bring even more people!”

Congratulations to Shari, Michael and their team on a job well done!


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