Article From Moultrie News About 33rd Annual Turkey Day Run & Gobble Wobble
As thousands of walkers and runners line up for the 33rd Annual Turkey Day Run & Gobble Wobble, there will be hundreds of things on their minds. Some will be thinking about reaching a new personal-best time while others will be focusing on burning off the calories they will undoubtedly eat later. Still others will be skipping ahead to the joys of the Beer Garden and Blue Dogs at the post-race party. But as they ready themselves for the start of the race, their focus will narrow to one person; one 10-year old boy will command their attention, even if just for a few seconds.
Standing on a platform preparing to shoot off the starter’s pistol will be Cliff Bielke. Donning a Cliff’s Cause t-shirt and wearing a smile, Cliff will remind others what Thanksgiving and the Turkey Day Run are all about.
Described as “classically gifted” by his teachers at East Cooper Montessori, Cliff loves science and experiments. His attitude and outward appearance give few clues to the two-year battle he and his family has been fighting. Cliff has ALL t-cell leukemia.
“It was such a shock,” said Caroline Bielke, Cliff’s mother. “One of the first things he asked me was ‘Mommy are you under stress?’ But Cliff’s always been better about this than we are. He hasn’t had too many hard times.”
The Bielke family credits Cliff’s relatively unaffected nature to MUSC Children’s Hospital and local nonprofits like Camp Happy Days, which gives kids with life-threatening diseases a chance to attend summer camp. The Bielke’s non-profit, Cliff’s Cause, raises money for these charities, as well as others that help children and families with cancer.
Cliff’s namesake charity was started by two students in Kirk Bielke’s business class at Wando High School who wanted to help their teacher.
“Kirk has always been a service-minded individual,” Caroline Bielke said of her husband who had started a program called Bielke’s Buddies in the high school to promote community service among his students. “The tables were turned when Cliff was diagnosed with cancer.”
Cliff’s Cause was originally started with the goal of helping the Bielke’s with the financial burden of caring and treating for a child with cancer. The charity has grown immensely over two years and has raised over $35,000. His presence at this year’s Turkey Day Run & Gobble Wobble is a testament to the quality of care he has received at MUSC Children’s Hospital, one of three charities involved in this year’s Charity Connection, which allows race participants to choose where their donation dollars go. Additionally, he represents one of 20 volunteers from Camp Happy Days who will be donating their time to ensure the effectiveness of the race.
“People think that cancer kids don’t get to do lots of things, but I’ve gotten to do things that even well kids don’t get to do,” Cliff said about the opportunities he’s received as a result of his diagnosis. Unwilling to let his disease slow him down, Cliff has parasailed with Camp Happy Days, played hours of Wii with other children at MUSC Children’s Hospital and will now enjoy his designation as a guest of honor at this year’s race.
For information on the Turkey Day Run & Gobble Wobble, visit www.turkeydayrun.com. Learn more about Camp Happy Days at www.camphappydays.com.