Rex Lee Run Details
- Saturday, March 12, 2016
- 9 a.m.: 10K race begins
- 9:15 a.m.: 5K race begins
- Register: rexleerun.byu.edu
Everyone who crossed the finish line at the BYU Rex Lee Run is running for a reason. Some use the 5K/10K race to train for a larger race. Some like that it’s a fun activity to do with family and friends. Some participate every year in this favorite tradition.
For many, the race is personal. They want to show support for loved ones who are currently battling the disease and to honor Rex E. Lee, BYU’s 10th president who succumbed to cancer in 1996.
Those are all great reasons to run, but running the race is important for another reason: the race enables the careers of aspiring cancer researchers. Proceeds from the Rex Lee Run help fund the summer fellowship program at the BYU Simmons Center for Cancer Research.
Each year, hopeful undergraduate and graduate students are selected from proposals they submit describing the cancer research they are interested in pursuing. During the fellowship, the students learn first how cancer works in the body and how to prevent it from spreading. Then they can choose to study topics ranging from decreasing drug resistance in cells to finding a potential tumor suppressor gene. This basic research provides knowledge for the worldwide cancer-research community.
“Over twenty patents have resulted from this work,” said Dr. Merrill J. Christensen, director of the Simmons Center for Cancer Research. “In the last 10 years, over a 150 papers have been published including the students as authors.”
The fellowship program not only benefits the progress of cancer research, but also changes the lives of the students selected to participate. Summer fellows are given the opportunity to research full time for four months. This experience is particularly valuable for undergraduate students who do not generally have the opportunity to participate in full-time research.
“I’ve been at multiple schools, undergrads don’t get these opportunities,” said Dr. Joshua L. Andersen, a mentor at the Center.
Most importantly, the fellows are given the chance to pursue their passion for fighting cancer. Nearly everyone who works in the Center has a family member or friend who has battled some form of the disease, making the research is a very special experience.
“It’s easy to be passionate about cancer research,” said Courtney Banks, a Ph.D. student and former summer fellow.
Daniel Barnett, an undergraduate fellow studying microbiology, lost his younger brother to an aggressive form of bone cancer. Another fellow, Wei Meng, has wanted to thwart cancer since the age of five, when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Simmons Center mentors are amazed at the passion and dedication of students who could do anything with their summers but choose to study cancer.
“They’re really dedicated to making the world a better place,” said Dr. Julianne Grose.
Last year, 18 students were awarded summer fellowships because of the money raised from the 2015 Rex Lee Run, which had 1,800 participants. Race Director Emily Sorensen hopes to make the race equally successful this year.
“The Rex Lee Run is an amazing community experience that brings everyone together in this fight against cancer,” she said. “It is especially meaningful for the fellows, because they can see thousands of people coming together to support the work they are doing, and it gives them more hope as they search for a cure.”
Registration is now open for runners and walkers of all ages at rexleerun.byu.edu. The race will be on Saturday, March 12. The 10K starts at 9 a.m., and the 5K at 9:15 a.m. New to this year's Rex Lee Run is a 1K race. Both races begin outside the BYU Outdoor Track, located just south of the LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Writer: Jordan Wright