By: Team Trent via Rick and Lois Burnette – Race Directors
Two years ago several stories of hope, caring and community came out of Trent McElroy’s battle with cancer. You may know that Trent was a fourth grader at Roberts Elementary school who had fought his cancer since his kindergarten year.
The real stories are not exclusively about Trent or his passing on November 13th, 2013, although he was a remarkable citizen of our neighborhood. Trent set the foundation for a number of stories about our neighbors, his school, his church ,his sports teams, and one of his most lasting legacies – the Trent Trot 5K and 1 Miler.
In mid-November a permanent memorial and a tree were planted in Trent’s honor at Robert’s Elementary school. Earlier this year, the “Heart of a Warrior” statue was erected in his honor at Trent McElroy Field at the Miccosukee Little League Park. You may remember that your neighbors put up their Christmas decorations early so Trent could see them with is family before he left his Earthly body. What you may not know is that over 1100 members of our community participated this past January in some way at the Trent Trot 5K and 1 Miler run/walk – making it one of the largest races in Tallahassee.
Perhaps the biggest story about Trent was Trent himself. Despite his challenges with his cancer and many trips for treatment in Texas and Jacksonville, Trent remained an inspiration to his classmates. Most of them graduated on to middle school this fall, but only after littering the cafeteria with messages about the inspiration he provided to them. He will forever be a part of the fabric of the 2015 Roberts graduating class because in spite of his grit and competitiveness, he was an uncommonly caring, upbeat, and insightful friend who handled his challenges with absolute grace. His classmates traveled his journey with him and he travels with most of them to this day.
Trent wanted to be a doctor so that he could help save people from the cancer that took his life. He felt that no one could better relate to children with cancer than he could. His desire was to pay forward to the next generation by helping both the children and families affected by childhood cancer. To that end, the Trent’s Touch Foundation was created in his honor. Families facing childhood cancer often feel isolated in their journey, a point that is complicated by the unexpected expenses associated with treatments and travel. The Foundation is a means for the McElroy family, extended family and friends to follow through on Trent’s desire to assist those who follow him.
The Trent Trot 5K and 1 Miler became a focal point in assuring Trent’s legacy. The race, a philanthropic effort of the Roberts Elementary faculty and staff, was formerly known as the Roberts Red Fox Trot but was renamed the as the Trent Trot. These races allow his neighbors, classmates, teachers, family and friends to celebrate his life and provide hope and support for others. The community took note when the race went from around 400 participants to 1100 (900 of whom ran one of the two races). Around 125 people who were out of town or physically unable to participate signed up as virtual runners to support the cause. Those who attended braved a cold January morning to complete, just as Trent and his family had in the three prior years. However, the outpouring of support wasn’t just from the participants it was also from over thirty sponsors who played a huge part in generating $20,000 in proceeds that were given to the Trent’s Touch Foundation.
The Trent’s Touch Foundation Board of Directors created a process for seeking and evaluating cases where local families are facing childhood cancer. To date, five families have received support from the Foundation and the hope is to find more Warriors like Trent that the Foundation can assist. This non-profit Foundation is run by your neighbors and all recipients of the Warrior Awards are from the local area. With a voluntary board of directors and support of local families, this is truly a community effort with neighbors helping neighbors.
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