By JAVIER SIMON
---- — PERU — Twenty-two years ago, the Evans family got a helping hand.
Two years later, they decided to return the favor, and they continue doing it today.
When Don and Shirley Evans’s son Jon was in the midst of cancer treatment, family friends Scott Woodward and Mark Elmore organized a fundraising run to help the family with traveling costs and other expenses.
Jon died in 1991, but the family decided to keep the run going, using the funds to help other local families with seriously ill children.
The 23rd-annual run will take place at 5 p.m. Saturday at Forrence Orchards on Mannix Road.
“They’re a huge business enterprise, and not many like them would do something like this, I think,” Woodward said. “They have always been a tremendous help for us.”
About 300 runners of all levels are expected to take part, running through rows of trees heavily laden with ripening apples.
The event includes a 1.25-mile non-competitive walk, about a quarter-mile Fun Run for children and also the 2.5-mile Run for Jon.
Woodward said the runners who typically participate come from many backgrounds — some are casual runners, while others are professionals who’ve been regional and state champions.
“At the front, the race can be very competitive,” he said.
The Run for Jon is sanctioned by the Adirondack Association of the U.S.A. Track and Field Association.
‘A SWEET KID’
The Evans family brings along a picture of Jon every year so that is front and center as Woodward delivers a brief talk on his life.
As Jon’s former cross-country coach, Woodward reflects on many memories of a “sweet kid” breaking a sweat on the track and rising to become lead modified champion of the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference.
Mr. Evans said the race generally brings in about $3,000 to $4,000 a year. Throughout the year, that money is distributed to families in need.
“If you need help and give the Evanses a call, they would gladly write you a check,” Woodward said of those who qualify for assistance.
The Evans family also keeps their eyes out for media reports of families in need.
This year, the Run for Jon will also feature a bake sale, with the proceeds divided between the Jonathan Evans Memorial Fund and the Running for Roz fund.
The latter organization was formed in memory of Rosalind Prisciandaro, a former Peru High School track and cross-country coach who was a longtime supporter of Run for Jon. She died in July 12 after fighting acute myeloid leukemia, and the funds raised by Running for Roz go to the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society.
‘DON’T LOOK BACK’
This year, the organizers of the run will be selling a new Run for Jon T-shirt emblazoned with a special quote that is important to the Evans family.
Shorty before Jon died, his younger sister had asked him for some running advice, their father said.
He replied, “Take the lead and don’t look back.”
RUN FOR JON
The Run for Jon takes place at Forrence Orchards, Mannix Road, Peru on Saturday.
Registration takes place from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m.
Cost is $10 per person, $25 per family and $2 for the Fun Run.
The non-competitive Walk starts at 5 p.m., the Fun Run at 5:30, and Run at 5:45. Learn more at runforjon.com.