During his two-year battle with AML leukemia, it would have been understandable if Chad Welch kept his intention focused squarely on his own illness.
But instead of concerning himself strictly with his own battle for life, Welch took an interest in the larger fight against leukemia and blood cancers. Welch was awarded for his unselfishness and courage by being named Hero of the Year by the national Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Sadly, that was before Welch’s battle with leukemia came to an end on June 24, 2007. However, his memory is being used by friends and family to help raise awareness, and money, for leukemia and blood cancer research.
Friends created the organization Team Chad, which, during its first full year of existence last year, raised more than $80,000 for leukemia research. The team hosts a wine tasting, a tailgating party for a University of Tennessee football game, in addition to running the Country Music Marathon.
Last year, 115 runners joined Team Chad and ran the marathon on the way to raising $50,000. Team Chad leaders are looking to equal that total this weekend as they will once again be running the race in his memory.
“All the credit goes to Chad, because I think it’s a testament to his memory and how much he was loved,” said Welch’s friend and Team Chad member, Micah Lacher.
Lacher said many of the Team Chad members knew Welch personally, but that the group has grown from friends and family eager to contribute to the cause.
Welch, only 30 when he passed away, was remembered for his many close friendships and his devotion to his family. Lacher said Welch was as an avid football fan, especially of the Tennessee Volunteers.
“When Chad passed away in the summer of 2007, we were looking for something to do to honor his life,” Lacher said. “He was raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We thought it would be a good way to raise support, we had heard of a couple of groups running the Country Music Marathon for charity, and we decided to do it as well.”
Lacher said enrollment for Team Chad is down slightly this year to 75 members, but added that others are welcome to join Saturday in advance of the race.
For more information about Team Chad, or to contribute to the cause, visit teamchad.us.