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A College Professor's Hero: A Three-Year-Old

CME professor Jack McClurg is running in the St. Jude half marathon Saturday for his granddaughter. Not many college professors would ascribe hero status to a 3-year-old, but Jack McClurg is not just any college professor. And his granddaughter Lylah is not just any 3-year-old.
Since April Lylah has been at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital battling Stage 4 neuroblastoma. She has finished six rounds of chemotherapy, gone through three surgeries and is halfway through a stem cell transplant procedure.

Jack McClurg and his granddaughter Lylah
Jack McClurg and his granddaughter Lylah

Her grandfather, Jack McClurg, is an associate professor of practice at the University of Mississippi’s Center for Manufacturing Excellence and a UM alumnus. He wanted to do something to show support not only for Lylah but also for St. Jude, which has offered remarkable care not only for Lylah but also for her family, McClurg said.
So McClurg has been training to run in the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon, set for Saturday, Dec. 6th, in Memphis. For someone who hasn’t run in a very long time it was a challenge to train and work up his distance. But it’s been worth every painful step.
“She is just the strongest little person I have ever known,” he said. “To say the least, she is my hero!”
On his St. Jude fundraising page, McClurg describes himself as “Lylah’s Pop” and says that until she was diagnosed he did not pay a lot of attention to the fundraising efforts going on around him for many deserving organizations.
“Don’t get me wrong, I knew they were for a good cause, but I never knew how much good it was doing,” he explained. “The main reason I am doing this is because St. Jude has been so incredible to us! They have taken excellent care of my granddaughter, but they haven’t forgotten about the needs/concerns of the parents and immediate family. The fact is, they have provided outpatient housing for the family when they are not confined to the hospital, discounts on food, gas vouchers for travel back and forth from Booneville to the hospital for my son-in-law and many more things.”
McClurg said he took on the challenge to bring attention to the work of St. Jude and to show personally how much their care has meant to his family.
“They try so hard to make it such that the parents don’t have to worry about anything, except their child,” he said. “There is never a bill with St. Jude. Whatever the insurance doesn’t cover, St. Jude does. When you see and experience that firsthand, you have to do something.”
So when he laces up his running shoes Saturday at the starting line for this long-awaited race, McClurg said he will be racing for Lylah and for all the children touched by St. Jude.
“Running the St. Jude half marathon is my way of doing that,” he said. “It is hard to get this over-the-hill, overweight body out there and training, but it reminds me of the hardships that Lylah is going through and the good that St. Jude is doing, not just for my granddaughter, but for all of the children that are there.”
To make a donation to St. Jude, visit McClurg’s fundraising page here.
HottyToddy.com staff report

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