Racing toward a better future

Oct. 6, 2006, midnight | By Kate Harter | 17 years, 9 months ago

Becca's Run participants run for the cure

Tomorrow, more than a thousand people will gather at the small field behind St. Bernadette Catholic School for the 10th anniversary of Becca's Run. They are not gathering there for Mass, they aren't there to watch their kids play baseball, football, or soccer. Each year, thousands have gathered to run the local 5K race—or 2 mile walk—that is in memory of Rebecca Lilly, so that, maybe one day, there will be a cure for cancer.

Since its creation nine years ago, Becca's Run has steadily grown from a local event into the race that draws over a thousand participants each year. Since then, the walkers and runners have raised over $287,000 for various organizations devoted to curing cancer in children.

Becca's Run's participants reach the end of the 5k race.

Becca Lilly, after whom the race was named, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1991 when she was 11. She fought against the cancer for six years, until June of 1997, when she lost the battle. Around this same time, Mark Savercool, a family friend of the Lillys, had been wanting to start a "fun run" in his neighborhood, Woodmoor, which surrounds St. Bernadette. After Becca died, the Savercools invited her family over to discuss the possibility of creating a run that would be in her name, from which funds would go to a charity the Lillys could choose. Just a few months later, in October of 1997, the Savercool family started Becca's Run in Becca's memory.

Friends coming together

Kristin Savercool, who continues to operate Becca's Run along with her husband every year, explains that Becca's Run started out with mostly Woodmoor and St. Bernadette participants.

Bridget Gilday, a 16-year-old Woodmoor resident, has done the walking portion of Becca's run many times and has run the race twice. Though she can't run the race this year because of a basketball injury, she still plans on helping out so that she can be part of the event again.

Gilday says she participates year after year for the memories and the cause. , "I have known the Lillys since kindergarten and I remember when Becca died." Gilday says that Becca's Run also unifies the community for a good cause. "I love how the community put together such an amazing fundraiser and how it's become and so many friends and families have gotten involved," she says. "It's a very social event but it's for a great cause."

Another longtime participant, Amanda Parsley,also 16, has similar feelings for the run. She has been either running the race or walking since 1997, when it was first started, so it will be her 10th year of involvement.

For Parsley, the best part is that "you see so many familiar faces and it's good to know that the community is involved."

But the yearly race has grown from a neighborhood and community happening with only friendly faces to a huge event that draws people of all ages from all around. Last year, the turnout was what Savercool called "pretty good," with around 1,000 to 1,300 runners or walkers.

According to Savercool, the race has grown mostly through word of mouth, and that the majority of participants don't even know the Lillys. In 2005's race, there were participants from 76 cities and 12 states and D.C. Savercool points out, "that's just last year."

Each year the Marines run the 5K race, and in recent years Ben and Brian from 98.7 FM WMZQ's "Ben and Brian in the Morning" have showed up. The duo will be coming again this year to pump the runners and walkers up with country music before the race.

Spreading the Wealth

Over the first few years Becca's Run was in operation, the Lillys chose a charity each year to which they would give the raised funds. Recently, though, they founded Becca's Fund, which divides the money to many groups instead of just one. This way, funding is more spread out and can help many more foundations a year. Some of the projects that Becca's Fund has given proceeds to include Special Love Inc, The Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation and The Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation Inc.

Many sponsors also help make the race possible each year. These sponsors help fund the event and help put the run into action year after year. Some of them include Waters Development Group, Master Plumbing, Drink More Water and Coakley Williams Construction.

When, Where and How?

This year, like previous years, Becca's Run will start at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, at the field behind St. Bernadette (80 University Blvd. East, Silver Spring MD 20901). Participants can either run the 5K through the neighborhood of Woodmoor or the 2-mile walk. Both courses start at the top of Hillmoor Drive and end at the top of the Rockdale Drive entrance to St. Bernadette.

In order to get involved, people can register online through noon of Oct. 5 at Becca's Run's web site. Interested participants ne must register on-site on either Oct. 6 from 6-8 p.m. or race day (Oct. 7) from 7-8 a.m. The fee for registration is $30, but there is a special family rate for families with five or more persons registering.

Packet Pick-Up happens on Friday, Oct. 6 from 6-8pm in St. Bernadette's school hall. If a participant cannot pick up their packet on Friday, there will be a tent marked "Packet Pick-Up" from 7-7:45am on the day of the race.

For more info on the race, visit Becca's Run web site or call the race hot-line at (301)-593-5457, or can e-mail

Last updated: April 27, 2021, 1:08 p.m.

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