Leukemia survivor finishes Little Rockers Marathon

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Updated: 3/05/2012 9:23 am
Saturday, hundreds of kids from across the state completed the Little Rockers Marathon. They've trained for the past several months racking up 25-point-two miles. Saturday afternoon, they ran the final mile. For one boy, Saturday also marked a victory over leukemia.

"You get to run a lot," says runner Tanner Watkins.

"He loves to run and plans on being in track when he gets older, and this is just the start of it," says Tanner's mother.

"To me it's actually not about winning, it's about having fun and not competing with any others," says runner Kaitlin Shireman.

"I'm very proud of her running. She's a very active young lady, so she loves to run, too," says Kaitlin's father who is running the Little Rock Marathon Sunday.

Tanner and Kaitlin were two of the 18-hundred children running the final mile of the Little Rockers Marathon Saturday. Each child took home a medal, but for one 12-year-old, crossing the finish line for the first time had a special meaning.

"Three and a half years ago, there was a day we didn't know if we'd have him the next day, and so here he is," says Joy Rollefson.

In the fall of 2008, Rollefson found out her son, Patrik, had leukemia. Saturday, Patrik ran the final mile of the Little Rockers Marathon.

"I feel that I've accomplished something. That I'm getting back to normal," says Patrik.

Patrik's leukemia is in remission now, and for Joy, it's been a long three-and-a-half years.

"It makes me want to cry. You know, the fact that he's here with us, that makes me want to cry. Laughs. He's a survivor, and he's worked really hard to both fight the cancer and to fight through some of the side effects of the cancer treatment that made it really hard for him to exercise and run and, you know, be a normal kid," says Joy.

This summer, Patrik has big plans.

"There's a Children's Hospital triathalon that I want to do now," he says.

If you'd like your school to get involved with the Little Rockers Marathon next year, contact Geneva Hampton at ghampton@littlerock.org.
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