LENOX -- For friends and family members of the late local resident Brock Wilkerson, the annual race named in his honor is a tribute to his legacy as a marathon runner who succumbed to lung cancer seven years ago at the age of 47.
For the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, the BrockTrot, which starts on Main Street on Sunday morning at 9 after registration at Shakespeare & Company, contributes significantly to early detection and research into the still-elusive causes of lung cancer in non-smokers.
Since the inaugural event in 2006, funds donated to the institute total $249,000, said executive race director John Toole, one of Wilkerson's close friends.
"It's been so helpful and inspiring for my children, who lost their father way too young," said Chris Wilkerson, Brock's first wife, who credited Toole and his six-member committee for their generosity in organizing the event.
Daughters Caroline and Elizabeth were 9 and 11, respectively, when they lost their dad, a runner who had participated in the New York City Marathon and 12 other races, including three during his two-year struggle against stage 4 lung cancer.
Now, they are among the many runners paying tribute to his memory and raising funds for cancer research.
"It's so good for them, even though they haven't had a father since then, to keep his name out there, to keep the legacy going," their mother said. "It's really helpful for the family to know his name is being kept alive in such a good and positive fashion."
Chris Wilkerson, a Lenox resident, will be doing the BrockWalk this year. Caroline, now a junior at Lenox Memorial High School, and sister Elizabeth, a freshman at St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y., are planning to take part in the 10K race. Brock Wilkerson's second wife, Cathy, lives in Ohio; his brother, Brian, and wife, Joan, of Lawrence, Kan., will attend the event.
For Toole, conceiving the BrockTrot and overseeing it each year has been a labor of love.
"It's a deeply personal endeavor for me," he said, "Brock was a good friend and a very inspiring, motivating person. I was not a marathon runner, but he got me to become one just for the fun of it."
"So it's personal for me and when he died, it affected me very deeply," Toole said.
He called the annual event "extremely meaningful, because his two young girls have gotten a great deal from it and the community has come around and supported us. The research is very meaningful, so for many reasons it's something I very much look forward to. The results have been outstanding, and that's a great thing and deeply significant."
According to Dana-Farber, lung cancer remains the leading cause of all U.S. cancer deaths; 15 percent of male patients, including Wilkerson, and 20 percent of female patients were non-smokers. Researchers are studying potential environmental and genetic factors that may cause these cancers, including radon exposure.
This year's goal is $50,000, said co-organizer Karen Clairmont.
As of Friday, 265 participants have registered for the 10K and 5K adult races, the BrockWalk for all ages, and the Kids Run.
A booth for registrants will be at today's Lenox Apple Squeeze from 10 to 3, and last-minute runners and walkers can sign up Sunday morning from 7 to 8:30 at the Tina Packer Playhouse (formerly the Founders Theatre) at Shakespeare & Company, 70 Kemble St.
The race will cause road closings for one hour or less along Walker Street at Church Street, Main Street at Sunset, Cliffwood Street at Reservoir Road, West Street at Hawthorne, portions of Hawthorne Road and Hawthorne Street, Undermountain Road at West Street and Old Stockbridge Road. Lenox and Stockbridge Police will be directing traffic.
For more information, visit www.brocktrot.org.
If you go
What: Seventh annual BrockTrot fundraiser for lung cancer research at the Dana-Farber Institute in Boston.
When: Sunday, based at Shakespeare & Company, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. Adult races start at 9; Kids race at 10. Awards ceremony at 11.
Registration: $30 for the 10K adult road race, $25 for the 5K road race, $15 for the Community BrockWalk and $10 for the Kids Race (one mile or a half-mile). Signups today are at the BrockTrot booth at the Lenox Apple Squeeze from 10 to 3; also Sunday, registration is 7-8:30 a.m (kids race registration until 9:30), Tina Packer Playhouse, Shakespeare & Company.
Goal: $50,000 for cancer research, bringing the six-year total to $300,000.
Donations and Contributions: Brock Wilkerson Memorial Cancer Research Fund, P.O. Box 2003, Lenox, MA 01240. Information: (413) 445-0767 or www.BrockTrot.org.