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Jayda's 100-mile run

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Levant girl spends summer running for a cause

LEVANT - While most kids spent their summer vacation relaxing, swimming, going to camp and having sleep-overs, 11-year-old Jayda Bailey of Levant was focused on running. Why? For two reasons: One, her track coach put out a challenge to run 100 cumulative miles over the summer. And two, to raise money to find a cure for lung cancer, a disease that her 59-year-old live-in grandmother, Edith Graves, was diagnosed with.

"The day after school got out she started running a mile," said Jennifer Bailey, Jayda's mother.

Often times, Jayda would run the cul-de-sac in her neighborhood, while other days she asked her parents to bring her to Bangor for a run, just for a change of scenery.

"Believe me it was hard at times," said Jayda. "Sometimes my mom would help me out a bit by being behind me, cheering me on," she explained.

Jayda was even able to pick up her pace as her parents kept a running total of the number of miles she was accumulating.

"She sometimes carried a bug zapper with her that looks like a tennis racket and when the horse flies came around that was enough of a motivator for her to pick up her pace and run a little faster," Jennifer chuckled.

Jayda's family also started a Facebook page called "Jayda's 100 mile run for lung cancer" where they kept an update of her efforts. The website also has a link to LUNGevity, a foundation focused on ending lung cancer. Jayda's monetary goal was to raise $500 for the non-profit, but she surpassed it, raising over $2,000 and counting.

However as the summer progressed, so did her grandmother's cancer.

"She was actually the thing that helped me keep going when I was tired because she was in a lot more pain than I was," said Jayda.

"In the midst of all the emotions of taking care of someone who is terminally ill, we were worried about how this would impact Jayda at 11 years old, and how she would deal with it. It's a disease that's very cruel," said Jennifer.

Jayda's grandmother passed away on Aug. 21. Just three days later, Jayda successfully ran her 100th mile.

"I know Jayda's journey helped her dad through some tough times, because he was able to get Jayda to run the last mile on the day of her grandmother's funeral, and it carried her through the day," said Jennifer.

"I think if she was still alive, she'd be very proud and cheering me on," said Jayda.

So what's next for this 11-year-old runner? Jayda still wants to keep running and raising funds for LUNGevity. In fact she's already set a new goal of running 150 miles next summer.

"I'm not going to stop running. I couldn't even run a mile and now I can run three miles at one time," said Jayda.

If you'd like to support Jayda and LUNGevity, you can make a check out to "Jayda's 100 mile run for lung cancer," and mail it to 18 Sunny Acres Drive, Levant, ME 04456. You can also continue to follow her progress on her Facebook page.

Last modified on Friday, 02 December 2011 15:24


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