500 Festival runner racing for brother who beat rare cancer

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INDIANAPOLIS– The 500 Festival kicked off this week and one of the biggest events is the Mini Marathon and 5K tomorrow, which will look different this year.  

More than 7,000 runners have registered for the virtual event. 

Race Day officials still want runners to feel the excitement of the 500 Festival—creating a race day playlist, app to track their progress and a take-home packet– complete with their own finish line tape and a medal.

While it was difficult decision to hold the event virtually, they say safety is their top priority.

“We’re in a public setting and public streets so it’s difficult with the size of our event,” said Bob Bryant, President and CEO of 500 Festival. “We are very supportive about what’s happening at IMS and that fans can attend. We can’t enact the same protocols for that event.”

When participant Katy Johnson laces up her running shoes tomorrow morning, she’ll be thinking of her younger brother. 

“I always say he’s my hero and a huge inspiration to me to live your life to the fullest because you never know what will happen,” Johnson said.

When her brother, Dakota, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at 13 months old. After battling cancer for three years, he received a life-saving bone marrow transplant. 

“Ever since then he’s been cancer free,” Johnson said.

Her brother’s strength inspired her to register for tomorrow’s race, fundraising for Riley Children’s Hospital and raising more than $1,300. 

“It’s been motivating and I know tomorrow it will kick in and inspire me the whole way,” Johnson said.

To learn more about the 500 Festival, click here.

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