Long after his passing Jan. 21, 2015, Joey Fabus lives on in the hearts of his family and friends as well as in a footrace that is held annually in his hometown of Bethel Park.
For the fifth year in a row, avid runners and walkers will gather Sept. 15 at the high school to compete in the Joey Fabus Superhero Run Over DIPG. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. The race starts at 9 a.m. In addition to the 5K run, the event includes a one-mile fun walk.
“We are excited that this is our fifth year and that the race is still going strong,” said Jonna Burke. “We are thankful for all of the support and we hope it continues for many years to come.
“It is important that Joey’s memory lives on and that his foundation continues to make difference in the fight against DIPG.”
When he was 8, in the spring of 2014, Fabus was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor caused by Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).
Most children with the cancer succumb to the disease within 9-12 months of his diagnosis. Current treatment options have been unsuccessful. Thus, the survival rate remains at 0%.
To promote more research and increase funding to find a cure for the disease, the Joey Fabus Childhood Cancer Foundation was established in the young boy’s honor.
“With the race, the foundation hopes to raise awareness and important funding to someday help end DIPG in honor of Joey and all of the other children who have passed or are afflicted with this unspeakable disease,” said Burke, who befriended Fabus and his family through her career as an elementary school educator and the girls’ varsity basketball coach.
”It’s a terrible disease,” said Joey’s mother, Cindy. “No chance of survival.”
During the final months of his life, Fabus survived on dreams and exercise.
On June 24, 2014, he realized his lifelong dream and became a police officer. Thanks to his friend, Tom Rigatti, he was officially sworn in by Judge Ron Arnoni and became the youngest officer on the force. The City of Pittsburgh and the community of Bethel Park honored him with separate “Joey Fabus Days.”
The son of David Fabus also attempted to remain physically fit even when the disease started taking its toll. An avid runner, Fabus often trained on the Montour Trail.
Fabus also embraced super heroes. He favored Captain America.
Race participants are encouraged to dress in superhero garb, mask or cape, while participating in the event.
Past races have impacted the Fabus family, which includes siblings, Nick, Josh, Clarissa and Olivia. The Fabus family also had another daughter, Hannah, who at 15 months died because of complications arising from a condition regarding her cyst-ridden kidneys.
“It’s very humbling when you see all these people because they are all there for Joey,” David said. “He touched a lot of people. I still get comments from a lot of people about how we are an inspiration to them. But it wasn’t us. It was Joey. He was the strong one.”
Fees are $25 for the 5K run and $15 for the walk. Children 12-and-under can enter the run for $15.
Fees on race day increase to $35 for adult runners and $20 for adult walkers.
Deadline to preregister is Aug. 31.
Visit runsignup.com/Race/PA/BethelPark/JoeyFabusRace to register.
All participants receive finisher’s medals, awards will be distributed to the overall male and female winners and master’s winners as well as the top three finishers in eight age groups from 12 and under through 70 and over.