Within 30 minutes of open registration at the Warriors for William 5K in J.F. Gregory Park on Sunday, race numbers had completely sold out. Walkers, runners, volunteers and other supporters came in droves to support a special little boy with a serious illness.
Three-year-old William Webb was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma in January and since then, friends and family have stopped at nothing to get him the best treatment possible in his fight to beat cancer.
“It’s just been an amazing thing to see their strength and to see how through all this adversity they have never let anything get them down,” said Tracy Brown, a close Webb family friend. “They have approached every day with purpose, a smile and strength and dignity.”
Sunday afternoon, Catherine Grant, a Richmond Hill Urgent Care physician and lead organizer of the event, saw the results of months of hard work and planning. She and nearly 100 Warriors for William volunteers were able to secure food vendors, entertainment, bounce houses, Disney characters and a bake sale for all the participants in the race.
What they hadn’t planned for was the overwhelming turnout of participants and the outpouring of support from volunteers throughout the community.
“We’re so excited about the turnout and the way people have really come out to support this little boy,” Grant said Sunday. “We expect to have 1,000 people walking or running.”
Her estimates were close. She said Tuesday the final counts showed 1,075 people participated in the 5K and half-mile fun run.
“It is estimated that we had 2,000-2,500 people attend the event,” she said.
According to Grant, the 5k was organized to accommodate about 500 runners and walkers, but those who missed registration were still allowed to participate in the race.
In honor of William Webb, whose love of Superman is well known, boys and girls were invited to participate in the fun run in their Halloween costumes.
Volunteers, including Margie Singleton, wore matching tutus to help field participants and assist with registration.
“It’s been very much of a group effort from the whole community. It’s taken a lot of coordination,” Singleton said of the event. “I’m just so moved by how many people have come out to help. They’ve been coming out of the woodwork — I didn’t even really have to ask for help.”
William and his mom, Danielle Webb, completed the fun run surrounded by friends and supporters. The proceeds from the race were put in an account for the Webb family and all donations were tax deductible thanks to a partnership with the Pay it Forward Foundation of Bryan County.