Distance runner races to support sister with cancer

Gillian Vaughan (center, front) with some of the runners for Team Gillian. (Photo by Blake Menzel, Menzel Images)

Gillian Vaughan (center, front) with some of the runners for Team Gillian. (Photo by Blake Menzel, Menzel Images)

Connor Vaughan, a Wolfson High School distance runner who won the 1- and 2-mile state championship races, is now a distance cross-country and track runner for the University of Florida. Vaughan returned to Jacksonville on Jan. 30 to run in the Wolfson Children’s Challenge in support of his 15-year-old sister, Gillian, who was diagnosed with bone cancer in December.  

Vaughan and his Wolfson teammate and fellow UF student, Mark Edward, FSU freshman Kent Ziegler, plus 17 other local resident runners made up two full 55K relay teams to support Wolfson Children’s Hospital where Gillian is receiving chemotherapy treatment for her cancer.

“I was completely overwhelmed with gratitude that day as I thought about not only all of the love of our amazing friends who supported us by running the race, being present with us that day and/or providing financial sponsorships but also the excellent care we have received from the staff of Wolfson Children’s Hospital and Nemours Children’s Specialty Care,” said Connie Vaughan, mother of Connor and Gillian.

Team Gillian One ran under the leadership of Shannon McGlynn, a physical education coach at Hendricks Avenue Elementary School, while Team Gillian Two was put together through the efforts of Lori Lunitz, whose daughter, Cassidy, is one of Gillian’s friends. Team shirts and a banner were donated by the Chris Brunner family business, Quality Images.

Connor Vaughan leads the pack of 30K Race runners in the Wolfson Children’s Challenge. (Photo by Blake Menzel, Menzel Images)

Connor Vaughan leads the pack of 30K Race runners in the Wolfson Children’s Challenge.
(Photo by Blake Menzel, Menzel Images)

“I can’t say thank you enough to everyone involved! It certainly does ‘take a village’ to raise a child and, as I have come to recognize, it also takes a village to conquer cancer,” said Connie. “I am humbled by the amazing support that Gillian and all of our family continue to receive as we fight this battle.” 

The event included a 55K ultra marathon, the 55K ultra relay for teams, the 30K individual run and a 1-Mile Fun Run. Vaughan also ran in the 30K race and won with a time of 2:02:40.

Team Gillian is at 35 percent of its fundraising goal; donations can still be made online at www.baptistteam.com

“The day of the race was absolutely gorgeous and was one more example to me of how God continues to bless my family as we travel along this difficult journey. 

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