The 12-year-old Teasley Middle School student died from complications from his tumor in January, but left behind a message of hope his family continues to spread with the Collins Dixon Bend Your Knees 5K and Fun Run.
On July 14, more than 400 runners will gather at the First Baptist Church in Canton to raise awareness of childhood brain cancer as well as raise money for charities that support families facing the challenges of having a child with a cancerous brain tumor.
The name of the race and corresponding foundation, Bend Your Knees, comes from Collins’ memorable and frequent call to his older brother, Ronnie Chastain, to bend his knees while shooting a free throw. The motto also reflects the boy’s deep sense of spirituality and faith, which he often looked to and spoke about throughout his struggles with cancer.
A portion of the race proceeds will go to the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children, a nonprofit charity that provides support to families of children with brain tumors. Additional money will be donated to other charities in Collins’ memory.
This Saturday, Jersey Mike’s Subs in Canton will have registration for the race from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. During this time, race participants and those wishing to donate can get a free regular sub with a $2 donation or more to the Bend Your Knees Run.
Leading the race will be 12-year-old AdriAnna Allen, who also suffers from a similar brain tumor condition. The soon-to-be Teasley Middle School student is preparing for surgery in a Jacksonville hospital on July 16, but Collins’ father Bob Dixon said AdriAnna will be able to be in Canton for race day.
Bob Dixon said the idea for the race came from Collins, who ran the Kids II Strong Legs Run sponsored by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on Nov. 4, 2011, to support a friend.
“He ran the 5K while he was under (chemotherapy) and radiation treatment,” he said, “We knew he liked to run and he also always wanted to give back to the community for everything they had done for him.”
Collin’s mother Robin Dixon said her son finished the race in just 39 minutes, only days after a chemotherapy treatment.
Just over a month later, it was discovered that Collins’ tumor had increased in size.
Yet Collins continued to inspire his friends, family and the greater community by spreading his message of hope by speaking and participating in various events throughout Cherokee County until he lost his 10-month-long battle with cancer.
Robin Dixon said she wanted to have the race near her son’s birthday, July 22.
“What a better way to celebrate by doing something worthwhile,” Robin Dixon said. “We needed to have something to look forward to. He has so many friends and I knew a lot of people would come out for him.”
And so far, they have. Over 400 participants have already registered for the race.
Bob Dixon said it has not been difficult to find support and sponsorships for the inaugural event. He credited his son for the overwhelming support of the community.
“Collins just had a galvanizing personality,” he said. “Everyone that he came in contact with was impacted by Collins. I can’t explain it, but I know that people were impacted by him and I think it was his strength and courage in his faith and that he never gave up and he never lost his faith.”
Bob Dixon encouraged supporters to come out and cheer for the runners on the more difficult parts of the course in honor of Collins.
“The runners have to run back up a hill near the church we’ve nicknamed Collins’ Hill—you’ve got to be strong and determined to finish strong,” Bob Dixon said.
Amy Turcotte, who is helping organize the event, said she is in awe of how the community has come together.
“It’s just so humbling to see all of the support,” Turcotte said. “That just really goes to show you how awesome our community is, how they still want to support (the Dixon family.) It just means so much to them that people care.”
Bob Dixon said he hopes to eventually expand the race to a 10K and have even more activities surrounding the event to turn it into an annual festival. However, he said the main goal is to continue to raise funds for those in need and to support brain tumor research.
Registration for the 5K “Raider Run” is $20 and the one mile “Brave Walk” is $5. T-shirts are guaranteed to pre-registered participants and as supplies last on race day.
Awards will be given to the top three finishers in each age group as well as for overall male and female finishers and for master’s male and female.
Also at the event, there will be a DJ, raffle, bounce house and children’s activities.
For more information or to register for the Bend Your Knees Run, visit www.bendyourknees.org or call Amy Turcotte at (770) 380-1432.