Woodward, Okla. —
Eden's Fireworks Foundation is all about “sharing light in the darkness” for those facing childhood cancer.
That's why the foundation will be holding a Glow in the Dark 5K run on Aug. 10 to help raise money to support its efforts to help children who have been diagnosed with cancer and their families.
The foundation was started by the family of Eden Esther Spaeth, who at the young age of 22-months-old passed away from neuroblastoma in Dec. 2010.
“When my daughter passed away, it was devastating to us. And we just wanted to make sure something good came out of the bad that happened,” her mother TeNeil Spaeth said. “And we want people to remember Eden for the awesome little girl she was. She only lived 22 months. It was a short life, but she lived it to the fullest. So we wanted to do something to honor her.”
Spaeth said that the foundation's name is in honor of the light that Eden brought to this world during her short life.
“A lot of people called her a firework when she was alive; she just had a sparkle about her,” Spaeth said.
“So when we started the foundation and were trying to figure out a name for it, we decided to name it Eden's Fireworks and encourage others to be fireworks in Eden's name and share a little light in the darkness. Because childhood cancer is a dark part in this world we live in,” she said.
However, Spaeth said a cancer diagnosis doesn't have to be a time without hope. And it is this hope that the foundation seeks to offer other Oklahoma families with children facing cancer.
“We just want to love on these kids and give them hope as they're dealing with childhood cancer because that's something no one wants to face, it's just not very fun at all,” she said.
Already, since forming in Sept. 2012, she said the foundation has provided several Kindle Fire tablets to young cancer patients at the OU Children's Medical Center. Also this past Christmas, the foundation sponsored a stocking stuffer program where it sought donations of toys to stuff 350 stockings that were handed out to “every patient who came through the oncology department at OU Children's,” she said.
Spaeth said the foundation wants to continue its program of handing out Kindle Fire tablets to those children who are hospitalized to help make their time in the hospital a little easier. The foundation also wants to eventually create “Firework Packets” to be given to “every new child who is diagnosed at OU Children's oncology department, and maybe if we get bigger then we can grow to other hospitals,” she said.
She explained these packets would include both fun items for the child, such as t-shirts, caps, games or other items, as well as important resource information to help the parents deal with their child's diagnosis.
“When our daughter was diagnosed, we didn't get anything like that. We just got this big thick book about childhood cancer and it was really depressing,” Spaeth said. “So we want to give other parents a list of resources and materials to help them deal with whatever diagnosis they may have.”
“We want to put together a packet of hope,” she said.
However, projects like these take funding, which is why the foundation decided to hold the upcoming Glow in the Dark 5K Run as it's first fundraiser. Spaeth said they are hoping to make it an annual event.
Spaeth said she got the idea for the night-time race after hearing about a similar glow in the dark race in Oklahoma City.
She said she felt it was a fitting event for the foundation because “I thought it went along with our fireworks theme since it's at night.”
“We have even had some fireworks donated so we will have a fireworks show after the race. It's probably not going to be 4th of July big, but hopefully as the event grows it will get bigger,” she said.
Spaeth said there's another added benefit to holding the race after dark.
“It won't be as hot, since it is in August,” she said. “And there won't be any sun to bake us.”
Registration will open at 8 p.m. on Aug. 10 with the race to begin at dark, around 9 p.m.
The race course will start at the Woodward High School parking lot and continue along the Goetzinger Walking Trail before returning to the school.
Participants are welcome to bring their own flashlights, but Spaeth said it isn't necessary.
“We did a walk around the trail the other night to see how dark it was and most of the trail is well-lit. There's just a few spots where it's not and we're going to bring our own lights for those areas,” she said, noting “we're going to have some black lights and other fun things along the trail.”
Also in addition to receiving race t-shirts, those who pre-register for the run will receive some glow-in-the-dark items to wear as they make their way along the course, she said.
People can preregister at the foundation's website EdensFireworks.org or on the group's Facebook page facebook.com/edensfireworksfoundation.
“There's a 5K flier on our website that they can click on and it gives them instructions about how to register, whether they choose to pay via PayPal online or they want to mail in a check,” Spaeth said.
She said people can still sign up to participate on the night of the event, but they might not receive a race t-shirt.
“The earlier they register, the more of a chance they will get a T-shirt,” she said.
Spaeth said she is hopeful that a lot of people will sign up for this different style of race.
“We're trying to make it not like your everyday 5K,” she said.
That includes opening it up to children, families and even those who just want to walk instead of run the 5K distance.
“It's for anybody who wants to join in,” Spaeth said.
For more information visit Eden's Fireworks Foundation website or Facebook page as listed above.