A week before his family’s highly anticipated vacation to Disney World, Orlando, 6-year-old Stephen was diagnosed with a large and very aggressive brain tumor. Following an emergency brain surgery in his home town of Albuquerque that saved his life, he was admitted to St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN where his rare form of cancer could be treated.
After several weeks of high dose radiation treatments and many complications, Stephen was finally stable enough to go home for a few weeks before starting chemotherapy. It was then that the Make-A-Wish Foundation® stepped in and made his greatest wish come true. Stephen’s family got their long-awaited Disney World trip and much, much more! It was an amazing week for the whole family.
The timing couldn’t have been better. However, on the final day of his trip, Stephen began displaying symptoms that his cancer was progressing. More emergency treatments followed in Albuquerque and at St. Jude. Less than three months later Stephen died at home surrounded by his parents and three siblings on April 15, 2012 – six months to the day of his initial diagnosis.
Stephen’s Run 2012 was organized by Stephen’s next door neighbor and then high school senior, Makaila Rodriguez. The run brought together hundreds of community members in support of the newly grieving family and raised over $12,000 to pay off medical bills and travel expenses uncured during Stephen’s illness.
Stephen’s Run has continued annually, hosted by the Petersons, to benefit various individuals and organizations who valiantly fight life-threatening childhood illnesses.