Teen starts 5K to help best friend and St. Jude patient

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Mid-South teen said she just couldn't sit by and do nothing while her best friend battled a life-threatening illness at St. Jude.

Samantha Tancredi and Courtney Davis have been close since they met in middle school at Hutchison.

"Courtney is awesome," Samantha said. "She's a rock star in her own herself and I am blessed and grateful to be one of her best friends."

But their relationship changed forever one day at Hutchison, where they both went to school.

"One day she ran into a room I was in at school and she was freaking out and thought she had a fever," Samantha said.

That's when Samantha learned her best friend had sickle cell anemia and would have to receive treatment for the disease at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

"I realized that St. Jude takes care of girls not only here at Hutchison but people all over the world and I really wanted to give back to my community," Samantha said.

So, Samantha teamed up with St. Jude to start the Heels for Healing 5K. After eight months of preparation, the race will finally happen on Saturday at Shelby Farms.

But the event is about more than racing, it's also about fundraising. Donations have already surpassed $30,000, with every cent headed to St. Jude, where families never have to pay for treatment or housing.

"I feel compelled to give back to my community when I can and do things to help make Memphis better," Samantha said.

Courtney will be one of the more than 300 runners and walkers participating in Samantha's race, which will help raise money for St. Jude to continue its life-saving research and medical care that will keep Courtney and those like her around for years to come.

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