Give Hope. Run. 5K gives the tri-state a chance to be 'Strong like Sean'

Hundreds of runners are expected at Burdette Park on Saturday for the second annual Give Hope. Run. 5K. The event raises money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to help children battling cancer.

On the Give Hope. Run. website, you can register for the 5K or if you can't make it, you can make a donation.

On the site, down in the corner, there is a picture of little Sean Witsoe, who is inspiring people to be 'Strong like Sean'.

"He was, um, he loved to dance and he loved to sing. When he was getting treatment he would be a little bit shy, but he just had this spark of personality," said Give Hope. Run. organizer Craig Witsoe.

In 2010, two days after his fifth birthday, little Sean Witsoe lost his courageous, nearly two-year battle with cancer. It was a brain tumor that took his life.

"It's become a little bit of a phrase in our family, say 'Strong like Sean'. Whenever the kids are upset about something or scared of something or don't want to do, you know, you've got to be strong like Sean and for us too," said Witsoe.

So Sean's parents, Craig and Katie Witsoe, took that phrase to heart and founded Evansville's first-ever Give Hope. Run. to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Last year's event became the largest of it's kind in the nation in it's very first year.

"We figured a couple hundred people would be great, but when it came close to 1,200, we were just blown away," said Witsoe.

The 5K brought in $75,000 for St. Jude. This year, they're already on track to break the $100,000 mark and even higher.

"We're just amazed that Evansville and the whole tri-state area has just had this outpouring that we never expected," said Witsoe. "If the awareness of letting families know about St. Jude, knowing what to do if someone you know has a child that has cancer, that's the biggest impact that we can have."

The Witsoe's say it costs $1.7 million a day to run St. Jude, but they say every dollar helps.

The Give Hope. Run. 5K is this Saturday at 8 a.m. at Burdette Park.

You can register the day of the event or heading to the Give Hope. Run. website.

Copyright 2012 WFIE. All rights reserved.