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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- If medals are earned not received, then the argument can be made that the children who gathered in this room have earned them.
"She has gone through so much with beating cancer and it's just a deeper motivation for running."
Caitlin Bowman, a third year medical student at the University of Louisville, began running the mini marathon for Layla Douglas four years ago through the Medals for Mettle program.
"I think it's huge just for kids to be a part of something that they get out of the hospital and get out of the clinic. They can do normal stuff that kids their ages do," Bowman said.
For the past five years, U of L medical students have given their Kentucky Derby Festival marathon and mini marathon medals to children like Layla, a 9-year old who has run through her own course of chemotherapy.
"My daughter was diagnosed with medulloblastoma back in October of 2009. She's been through treatment and everything has been clear since then," said Layla's father, Chris Douglas.
Layla's brain tumor is now in remission, but her friendship with Caitlin Bowman continues to grow. The same is true for 7-year old Dawson Barr. He began his own race with cancer at 6 months old . His mother, Aimee Barr, has been by his side, not knowing where the finish line is, only that her son was starting at the very back of the pack with the odds stacked against him.
"We were told it wasn't just one mass, it was actually 7 masses on his brain and 3 on his spine. And that they were inoperable," Barr told the crowd gathered inside the Student Activities Center on U of L's Belknap campus.
Barr fought back tears telling the crowd that all but one of Dawson's tumors are gone.
"But our lives are forever touched and changed by the race. And the sights that we see along the way," said Barr.
Running for Dawson this year, Samantha Sutkamp, a first year med student.
"It's cool. They have another friend. And we look up to them. I don't think they quite know that but hopefully they can feel it," said Sutkamp.
Dawson's mother describes him as an old soul. She held up her son to the microphone so he could address the crowd, telling them what the program has meant for him the past five years.
"It means for all these kids that have to do 'chemo' and all these bad things all these things that you don't want to do. It makes them smile. It always make me smile and it always will," said Dawson Barr. "It makes me smile. More runners come for the kids that are sick and that hardly ever get to do fun stuff. And that just makes me happy."