Classmates hold 5K run for medical student diagnosed with cancer
A 5K run will aim to raise funds for a College of Medicine student recently diagnosed with cancer.
The Team Derek Neal 5k Race/Fun Run was organized following Neal’s September diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer. Neal, a second-year student in the college, has been described by his classmates as a compassionate student excited to become a doctor. Many of his classmates organized efforts to benefit Neal’s family during his treatment, including the 5K event.
Since Neal received the diagnosis, the cancer has spread from his lungs to other areas of his body, said Benjamin Kwittken, one of Neal’s classmates who is in charge of promoting the event. Kwittken added that Neal surpassed doctors’ expectations of 4 months to live.
“He’s a young guy, he’s like 41, so it’s just super tragic and unfortunate,” Kwittken said. “So everybody in our class is kind of doing whatever we can to help them out.”
Efforts have included bringing meals to Neal’s family of a wife and two children, as well as refinishing patio furniture, selling wrist bands and T-shirts, and organizing fundraising events like the run, said Chris Shultz, another of Neal’s classmates in charge of organizing the run.
The run will be held on the UA Mall from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Dec. 2, and will loop the east end of the Mall twice, from Old Main to Campbell Avenue. Those interested in participating in the event can register at teamderek5k.webconnex.com/home, and are encouraged to arrive about a half hour early to pick up a T-shirt and wristband.
“It’s been wonderful to see how much everybody just wants to show support for his family,” said Heather Miller, a classmate in charge of coordinating help for Neal’s family.