It began with a photograph seen around the world.
During the Savannah Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon in November, runner Robert McCoy of Hinesville fell hard. First responders told McCoy his day was done, to stay down.
But the cancer survivor was not ready to quit because he was running in memory of his father, who died from cancer, and in support of his mother, who has cancer.
Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. John Cain, a Richmond Hill resident, offered to help carry McCoy for the remaining 200 yards.
Photographer Casey Jones captured the moment, and the image has been viewed by millions in newspapers, on television and online.
A month after Cain’s act of kindness, he went to the emergency room with severe pain. It turned out he has pancreatic cancer.
Friday, the area came to the aid of Cain with the Sgt. Cain Comeback Charity Challenge 5K, hosted by Georgia Game Changers Running Co. of Richmond Hill.
It has been a rollercoaster for Cain and his family. But, “We managed to push through,” he said. “And by pushing through, we take day by day by day as it comes. As we approach that day, we don’t make plans for the next one.”
Cain has completed his fifth chemotherapy treatment and feels optimistic.
“I feel I have reached a point where I would not know I had cancer if I wasn’t going to treatment,” he said.
One goal is to return to work soon. Cain and his doctor have decided it would be best to start part-time, in planning and support with Savannah-Chatham Metro Police. The 27-year officer can’t wait to “make a difference in the community once again.”
Cain said he has been overwhelmed by the support he has received.
“This (race) is not just for me, but for every person that has cancer,” he said. “There are people out there that care for you and that are out there for you, and that you will never be alone in any of this.”
The 5K was the highest-sponsored race in Georgia Game Changers’ history, according to owners John and Sandra Elliott. It raised more than $8,000, Sandra Elliott said.
More than 200 runners of all ages came out to support Cain, including McCoy.
He said it was emotional for him and that he is grateful for Cain’s kindness in Savannah.
“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have finished the race,” McCoy said of Cain. “They told me, ‘Your day is done’ and tried to keep me down. John volunteered to carry me the last 200 yards across the finish line. So I am here to help him through his struggle.”