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Teen's Running Fundraiser Supports Cancer Treatment for Local Mother of Two

For the second time in just over two years, the Raffenaud family was dealt a heavy blow. James, husband to Amanda and father to Luke and Jimmy, passed away in August of 2016. Now Amanda was facing a difficult battle following the diagnosis of Stage 4 breast cancer. A friend of Luke’s from school, Campbell Hendrix, wanted to help. But at just 13 years old, he wasn’t sure what he could do or where to start.

His mother Allison first suggested a 5K charity run that supported cancer research, but Campbell quickly pointed out, “So I can give 20 bucks to someone that’s not going to help her directly?” Alli could not argue her son’s point. Campbell runs track and cross country for his school, so the search was on to find something he could do with running that would truly make an impact.

Alli looked at GoFundMe, but found out pretty quickly they were not setup so supporters could pledge per mile. After they found Pledge It, mother and son shot a quick video, and Campbell’s Eyes Up Campaign was launched. By gaining pledges per mile he ran this summer, Campbell passed his goal by raising over $25,000.

"Eyes Up" with Every Step

“I kept wondering what I could do to help Mrs. Raffenaud,” Hendrix said. “Then I thought I could raise money by running. I don’t really like running that much, but I love doing it for her because I’m using my talent to help someone. Every step I take has a purpose in it. Every step is helping. Every step is worth something.”

“Eyes Up” is Raffenaud's message of hope, and has become synonymous with Campbell’s campaign. It is now printed on t-shirts and is inspiring others to keep going through tough times. “It’s a reminder that whenever life gets you down, keep your eyes up, keep your eyes on God,” Hendrix explained. “Mrs. Raffenaud has touched so many people with ‘eyes up.’ It’s words of hope to people, light for people in the darkness.”

As Campbell’s campaign has gained traction, he and Raffenaud have received inspirational messages from strangers that have turned into fans. “Eyes Up” has spread from his hometown of Orlando, Florida all the way to Missouri, where supporters ran with him while he was at summer camp.

As these two families have become connected through Campbell’s campaign, they’ve grown closer, becoming something of an extended family. While the middle schooler continues toward his 150-mile goal, he’s made it a regular routine to make the Raffenaud house one of his stops.

There, the mother of two has a drawer of snacks for him, and Gatorade in the fridge. The younger Hendrix will fuel up and continue on his way.

Going the Extra Mile

By the time the cancer was found it had already spread into Raffenaud’s legs. As treatment continues, she had set a goal of running one of Campbell’s miles with him. Her goal provided inspiration for Campbell to keep running, and for Raffenaud to keep healing. She accomplished that mission on August 14th when she ran Campbell's last mile with him. The community surprised her by showing up in the hundreds, and creating a makeshift finish line.

“At first, I never thought I could help. I thought I was just a little kid,” Campbell said. [Now that I found a way to help] it feels great. Whenever I’m running, I think if I’m in pain, Mrs. Raffenaud is the one fighting. It’s nothing compared to what she’s doing every single day to fight and keep fighting. There’s no break, she just keeps fighting, and that’s inspiring me.”

Campbell encourages kids like him who might feel powerless to help someone in need, or anyone for that matter to, “Just act. There’s a whole world out there, and anything can make a difference. Putting time and effort are two things that are valuable to anyone. If you put in your time and effort you can do something huge.”

This 13-year-old boy followed his own advice, and has raised thousands of dollars to help a dear family friend. The question is, if you’ve got a cause you’re passionate about, what’s stopping you from doing the same?

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Published on August 13, 2019

by Alexander Diegel

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