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5k started by Grosse Pointe teen has major impact at CS Mott Children's Hospital

Posted at 10:57 PM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 00:35:17-04

GROSSE POINTE, Mich. (WXYZ) — With over 600 participants, dozens of sponsors and more than $300,000 raised throughout the last four years, it’s safe to say Grosse Pointe’s Run, Walk n Roll 5K has been a success.

“We never thought it would get this big," founder Claire Sheeren said. "It's just been so amazing to see what has happened and how much it has grown. It’s blown up.”

The idea for the 5K came from then-16-year-old Claire, who wanted to do something in honor of her older sister Elizabeth.

“She spent over seven months in the hospital and it was really really hard for me to just watch her suffer," Claire said. "I felt so helpless and that there was nothing I could do.”

Elizabeth suffers from multiple autoimmune diseases that have kept her away from family and in the hospital for months at a time.

“Over the course of the last 10-and-a-half years, it’s kind of been one problem pops up and then another, then another,” Elizabeth said. "You're dealing with a really serious illness and spending a lot of time in the hospital and all you want to do is be home.”

Elizabeth is now 22. She celebrated her high school graduation at CS Mott Children's Hospital and was accepted into the University of Michigan. But her illness derailed her college plans.

“It's very difficult to be 22 and not be able to do all the things that I have dreamed of at this point,” Elizabeth said.

While she’s not in Ann Arbor as a student, her presence there is felt by children everyday. In her name, the 5k has raised enough money for three full time positions at CS Mott. A child life specialist, a massage therapist and a music therapist are coming this summer.

"Those are all extras in a hospital, so the fact that we have this wonderful family who is really helping to rally the community to provide the resources at CS Mott is just so so special to us, but even more special to the patients,” said Luanne Thomas Ewald, COO at CS Mott Children's Hospital.

So far this year, the run has raised more than $140,000. All of it is making a tangible difference, thanks to two sisters — and a teenager's idea.

“I just think it’s been really incredible," Claire said. "I think its been really empowering to be able to do something like this to help other families.”

The 5k starts this Saturday at 8:45 a.m. at Grosse Pointe South High School. You can donate, bid on auction items or register to run online at runsignup.com.