Noah’s Light Foundation is the celebrated charity for Disney’s Star Wars Half Marathon in the spring.
Amber Larkin’s son, Noah, was a “Star Wars” fanatic, and he would have loved that his mother’s organization was chosen as the designated charity for Disney’s Star Wars Half Marathon in April.
Noah’s Light Foundation will benefit from donations made when runners sign up for that weekend’s races on the runDisney site. Disney also gives a monetary gift to the celebrated charity.
Larkin started Noah’s Light in 2012 after her 8-year-old son, Noah, died of brain cancer. The Windermere resident has worked tirelessly to find a cure for the disease and has collaborated with doctors to come up with the NOAH (New Opportunities Advancing Hope) Protocol, which involves personalized immune-based NK (“natural killer”) cell therapy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the protocol last October; several pediatric brain cancer patients are now on the program.
The “Star Wars”-themed half marathon starts at 5 a.m. Sunday, April 17, at Epcot Resort and ends at ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Darth Vader’s white uniformed storm troopers will cheer on participants in this run on the Dark Side.
Larkin said she was hoping the run at Disneyland in California would be dubbed the Dark Side so Noah’s Light runners in Orlando could join the Light Side. But she said she is happy to “bring light to the Dark Side.” Noah would be pleased.
Team Noah is slated to have 175 runners, and because it is the selected runDisney charity, Larkin and other Noah’s Light members will address the crowd and show a video that shares the foundation’s vision for conquering pediatric brain cancer.
This local team partners with Jeff Galloway, the official trainer for runDisney, who leads a large running group. Larkin said Team Noah runners train on their own but are brought together by the team website. Runners travel from other states, and some come from far away as Europe to participate.
“They become a family,” Larkin said. “We have a big dinner the night before a race. They come and stay the whole weekend and get together. … It’s a good support group.”
The recent Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon raised $72,000 for Noah’s Light Foundation with 69 runners in the half marathon and 19 in the 10k. Runners with Team Noah sign up for a package that includes the run and some extras. In exchange, they fundraise for Noah’s Light.
An estimated 200 runners participated in the Disney Princess Half Marathon earlier this year.
Team Noah isn’t always just about the local organization, though, Larkin said.
“It’s family building, too. Some run for Noah, and run in Noah’s memory, but there are so many families battling cancer, and we’ve had families come from all over the world to run for a friend’s child or their child. And some families just want to do something good and come across our website and want to contribute.”