WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – An annual tradition that normally takes Tamme Hanrahan, her family and friends to Memphis each year had to move a little closer to home due to the pandemic.
Hanrahan and crew typically participate in the St. Jude Marathon and Half Marathon held each year in Memphis, but the COVID-19 pandemic effectively sent the marathon into virtual mode.
“It’s important for us to keep up the tradition,” Hanrahan said.
That’s because the family runs for a special little boy: Hanrahan’s late son, Konley.
Konley Thomas was born in 1998 and was diagnosed at age 1 with a brain tumor. As the family searched for treatment for little Konley, they discovered St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was conducting research on his kind of brain tumor.
Radiation was the family’s only option. Konley received three months of daily radiation, effectively entering into remission several years later.
The family enjoyed a normal, healthy life. Konley attended Pray-Woodman Elementary School in Maize and enjoyed trips to Disney World.
“That helped him stay alive for the 10 years we had him for. I truly mean that they were part of it,” Hanrahan said of St. Jude.
Konley went to regular check-ups at St. Jude. When he was nine, doctors discovered a tumor had returned but more invasive. Too much so for surgery or radiation.
Konley was 10 when he passed away.
One of the ways the family honors Konley’s memory is by making the trek to Memphis and running for St. Jude.
“It’s an incredible place. It’s a place that if you see the videos, that’s exactly what it is,” Hanrahan said.
In order to not miss out on an important tradition, Hanrahan and the crew organized their own race throughout west Wichita. They donned buttons of Konley and even had friends holding up the finish line tape to run through upon completion of the run. They put on medals at the finish line.
Konley’s photo was positioned on the porch as a sweet reminder of the blue-eyed boy they run to honor.
“He’s just in our hearts everyday, and we think of him all the time,” Hanrahan said.