Today would have been my brother, Francis Rex's 34th Birthday. In his memory I participated in the annual BrittiCares "Smile for Life" 5K in Pacific Palisades.
BrittiCares was founded by Britti Henderson, a beautiful and bright and talented girl who enjoyed life to the fullest. At the age of ten, she was diagnosed with bone cancer. During her treatment and remission, she and her parents founded the non-profit organization dedicated to "embracing children diagnosed with cancer through the power of love." Sadly, a year later the cancer returned, this time in the form of Leukemia. Britti was only 13 years old when she passed away but her spirit and legacy live on in her BrittiCares foundation.
I met Britti's mother at the Pan-African Film Festival Marrow Drive for Jerome Williams a few months ago. She is an amazing woman. We talked about Britti and Francis Rex and the joys and sorrows of their memories. Imagine the shock and delight we both shared when it was discovered that the BrittiCare's annual 5K was scheduled on the same day as my brother's birthday! We had one of those "It was meant to be" moments.
Today my friend Frances M joined me in the Run/Walk. I pinned Rex's photo on my shirt and carried his photo with me.
Chris Tucker, most famous for his role opposite Jackie Chan in the "Rush Hour" movies, stayed all day to show his support. We had a chance to meet before kicking off the 5K with a "Survivor's Lap", honoring all cancer survivor's in attendance. Chris Tucker supports efforts to sign up more minorities onto the marrow registry, especially black Americans of African, Caribbean and mixed descent.
It was an inspiring day. Even the Goodyear blimp showed up and sent greetings down to all the participants on its huge electronic marquee.
The icing on the cake was being able to meet David Joyner, the guy who is THE guy who played Barney the purple dinosaur! And yes, "Barney" supports the cancer fight as well! That's him in the picture on the lower right. (That's also him as "Hip Hop Harry" in the picture in the upper right, doing the Survivor's lap with Chris Tucker and me.)
Britti will always be remembered as a brave and remarkable girl. To a great extent, I believe it is because she has the most loving and inspiring parents the world has ever seen.