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Run for Recovery features swab station to help combat childhood leukemia

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WATERTOWN — The Watertown Urban Mission’s Bridge Program typically raises awareness for people struggling with addictions to alcohol and other substances, but on Saturday another cause will be added for the sake of sick children.

A Delete Blood Cancer booth is among the many vendors that will be at the Bridge Program’s annual Run for Recovery, to be held Saturday at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, off Coffeen Street, to help children overcome leukemia.

Both attendees and spectators are invited to participate in the swabbing station by taking a simple DNA swab of the inside of their cheek. Potential donors must be willing to donate their bone marrow or stem cells if it is later determined they are a match for someone in need.

“The more people who register, the better the chances are the children fighting this dangerous blood cancer will live,” Delete Blood Cancer volunteer Jeri L. Gray said in a prepared statement.

Her cousin, 3-year-old Chase Foley, recently found a match and is recovering.

According to Delete Blood Cancer’s website, nearly 14,000 patients find matches from strangers each year.

The partnership also is fitting, as September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

The annual 5k run/walk and 10k run are named in memory of former Dexter resident Mark Antonelli, 35, who was killed by a drunken driver in 2004.

Nearly 450 participants are expected on race day, and can begin checking in at 6:30 a.m. Same-day registration will be $25 per person or $140 per team. Discounts are offered for military members and students.

Event proceeds benefit the Bridge Program, an alternative to incarceration program that seeks to make people become aware of their actions involving alcohol and other substances, learn from them and be aware of potential consequences.

For more information about the program, or the Watertown Urban Mission, visit www.watertownurbanmission.com.

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