Seminole State student uses business capstone to enhance charity race In memory of her brother, Dawson’s Run 5K raises awareness for pediatric cancer

SANFORD, Fla. (March 29, 2016) – A Seminole State College of Florida student is taking advantage of the business, marketing and project planning techniques she learned to help turn a family tragedy into a source of positive action.

Kelsey Creager, who will earn her bachelor’s degree this spring from Seminole State’s Business and Information Management (BIM) Program, is using her capstone project as an opportunity to help raise awareness of an issue close to her heart: pediatric cancer.

The 25-year-old Geneva resident and her project group are working to expand the reach of the Dawson’s Run 5K, a race created three years ago in memory of her brother.

“My brother, Dawson, was diagnosed with childhood cancer in 2010 at the age of 11, while in fifth grade at Geneva Elementary School,” she says. “He endured 2 1/2 years of surgeries, constant chemotherapies and radiation. He took many steps forward in his treatment, and also many steps backward.”

After a hard-fought battle that exhausted all available treatment options, Dawson, then 13 years old, passed away on April 4, 2013.

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death among children, behind accidents. According to statistics compiled by the National Cancer Institute, about 15,780 children and adolescents 19 and younger will be diagnosed with some form of cancer each year, and another 1,960 are expected to die.

Spurred by the realization that pediatric cancer research often is underfunded or neglected, Kelsey’s parents, Susan and Michael, decided to honor Dawson’s memory by raising money and awareness to help others in similar situations. They created Dawson’s Circle of Hope, a Web-based community through which people can find information about pediatric cancer. Then, about a year after Dawson’s death, the Creagers, along with some family friends and supporters, teamed up with Geneva Elementary School to establish the Dawson’s Run 5K, which helps build awareness about and raise funds for the treatment of cancer in children.

In its first two years, the race raised more than $15,000.

All funds raised by the race were donated to The Truth 365, an award-winning campaign that uses social media and film projects to inform the public about the lack of funding and resources devoted to pediatric cancer research and treatment. According to the campaign, only about 4 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s annual budget of almost $5 billion goes toward researching treatment for pediatric cancer.

The focus of the final semester in Seminole State’s BIM Program is an award-winning capstone project in which student groups work in a real-world environment to solve organizational problems or enhance business models. Because the 2016 Dawson’s Run 5K will occur during her final semester, Kelsey and her capstone project group – Seminole State students Shannon McGluin, Mark Granger, Nikki Stafford and Jessica Holloway – worked with Seminole State Professor Christopher Beehner to create and implement a business model utilizing social media to help increase attendance and revenue from the 2015 event, which drew some 300 runners and raised about $10,000.

“When Kelsey and her group came to me about this project, I could see it was something they were really passionate about,” Beehner says. “Everyone was so excited about this great cause that I was happy to help them create a business plan that fit our project requirements.”

For the first time, in 2016, the race will be officially timed and take place on a certified course, which begins and ends at Geneva Elementary School. The race starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 2.

The Dawson’s Run 5K is one of two major campaigns the Creagers run each year. In September – National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and also the month of Dawson’s birthday (Sept. 10) – they run a T-shirt sale and fund drive at the annual Hometown Showdown football game between Oviedo High School and Hagerty High School. They also lead several smaller fundraisers throughout the year, such as ladies’ painting classes at The Winey Wench in Oviedo.

In all, the Creagers have raised about $50,000 to donate to The Truth 365.

“Most often, the very parents that are fighting for their children’s lives have to help fund the research to save their children,” Kelsey says.

To sign up for the Dawson’s Run 5K, visit the race’s RunSignUp page. Registration is $30, or $15 for Seminole County Public Schools students. To learn more about the Creagers’ story and the work they do, visitdawsonscircleofhope.com.

“All of my capstone project partners and professors have been immensely valuable in planning the Dawson’s Circle of Hope 5K event in 2016 and helping to secure the success of our future 5Ks,” Kelsey says. “Dawson’s legacy will continue to live on through everyone’s efforts, and we will make a difference for children with cancer.”

The BIM Program, part of the Center for Business, Legal and Entrepreneurship, is one of six bachelor’s degrees offered at Seminole State College of Florida. The program’s award-winning capstone project connects students with industry leaders and provides the real-world experience that prepares them for successful careers in business and entrepreneurship. For more information, please visit the BIM Program website.

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Photo: Seminole State student Kelsey Creager, seated on a Kawasaki dirt bike, leads participants in the 2015 Dawson’s Run 5K. Photo provided by www.dawsonscircleofhope.com.

Media contact: Joseph Hunter, 407.708.2286, HunterCJ@seminolestate.edu

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