Runners of all ages turned out May 7 at Harris Road Middle School in Concord for the fifth annual Our Boys 5K, held in honor of two Concord brothers who have Batten Disease.
Chris and Wendy Hawkins of Concord organize the event yearly to raise money for the Batten Disease Support and Research Association.
Their sons, Jeremy, 9, and Brandon, 13, were diagnosed with juvenile Batten Disease in 2006. The disease causes mental impairment, seizures and eventual loss of sight and motor skills. Children with the disease generally don't live past their teens or early 20s.
This year's event attracted 207 participants and raised about $8,000. There also was a one-mile fun run, and the Hawkins family was on hand.
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The brothers enjoy school and have some great friends and classmates who have supported them, their parents say on a website where they offer updates on their sons: ourboysjourney.wordpress.com/.
They enjoy playing VIP soccer with other children with disabilities on Sunday afternoons in the spring and fall. They love to play with the family's dogs, Cubby and Comanche, "to the point that the dogs just roll their eyes when they see the boys coming," the Hawkinses say.
Brandon's eyesight is almost gone. He tires easily but still tries to keep up with his activities, his parents say. His favorite pursuits are playing with his Beyblades tops and toys, playing Pokémon on his Nintendo DS, listening to audiobooks including Percy Jackson and the Bartimaeus trilogy, and watching cartoons.
Jeremy is still quite active, his parents say, although his sight, too, is quickly deteriorating. He enjoys playing Pokémon on his DS, listening to audiobooks and hanging out with his friend Cam.
Another event in honor of the brothers will take place in Davidson in June: The 24-hour Loopy 4 a Cause.
Family friend Jeff McGonnell of Davidson, a longtime marathon runner, will run continuously on the Davidson Town Green, at South Main Street and Davidson-Concord Road, from 11 a.m. June 4 to 11 a.m. June 5 to raise money for the Batten Disease Support and Research Association .
"For the right donation, I'll run in a dress juggling pineapples and whistling pop tunes," he said. "There will be costumes and props to wear or pay me to wear, and anyone can join in on a few loops of the run for a small donation."