It was a nice symmetry that the first person to cross the finish line of the 10th and final Friday for Julie Walk was a 10-year-old.
The two-mile walk, held Friday night in the Village Hall and area in Orland Park, is not a competition, but 10-year-old Dylan Glas of Oak Forest decided to run most of the way and when he was told he was the first to finish, he raised both arms and said “Yes!” over his accomplishment.
Event organizer Mary Doody, whose daughter, Julie, died of leukemia July 24, 2002, started the walk in Julie’s honor in 2003 and in 10 years, it has raised more than $1 million for research and to help families of people suffering from leukemia and other forms of blood cancer.
Mary Doody said that the For Julie Foundation will continue to raise money via other means — such as a winter Texas Hold-Em poker event — but is shutting down the walk event.
“We wanted to go out on top,’’ she said. “You don’t want to wait and then a few years later say ‘maybe we should have stopped.’ Ten years and a million dollars is a nice ending point. It was a good run.’’
Mary Doody said she hopes this year’s event will raise $100,000 but won’t know for months when all the donations come in.
Glas is a fifth grader at in Oak Forest and a distant relative of the Doody family. He said it was the second time he ran the two-mile course. His mother, Cindy said the family has come to several walks, possibly nine of the 10.
“I’m shocked about how much money has been raised in 10 years,” she said. “I’ll miss it.”
Tinley Park’s Katie Healy, a recent graduate of who plans on studying nursing at, came in second place. She is also a relative of the Doody clan.
“I’ve done about seven or eight,” she said. “I usually just walk it but since this was the last year, I thought I may as well run it.’’
Mary Doody said she will have fond memories of the walks and the thousands of people who have participated and donated money over the years.
“We’ve been able to help several families over the years,” she said. “And I see them face-to-face. It’s hard to see what they are going through and it brings back memories of what we went through with Julie. But it’s also rewarding knowing that we are able to help them in some way.”