About The Hope Express?
Hope Express is a tribute to the Four Diamonds kids and their families. By running 135/140 miles through central Pennsylvania, the participants will raise awareness for The Four Diamonds Fund while honoring the courageous battle these families fight every day.
For Hank and Connie, it is not so easy to explain the ‘why’. They are a Four Diamonds family and have experienced first hand the effect THON has on families. They could not have endured such hardships without the support from the kids at THON, our family sponsor The Student Red Cross Club and The Four Diamonds Fund. All of these organizations have brought sunshine to many cloudy days and pulled them through some really tough times with Gabe. The Hope Express is their way of giving back.
How Hope Express Was Created
Hank and Connie Angus attended their first THON in February 2006. A few weeks before, Hank told Connie he was going to run to THON. He had just started training for a marathon and had found that all of the running was really helping to get his mind off of everything that was going on with his son Gabe, and his battle with leukemia. Of course, there was no way Connie was going to let Hank run to THON so he did not.
After THON 2006, the Anguses were sitting in their car ready to head home and both turned to each other and said “we need to get that run together”. They were so impressed and overwhelmed by their first THON experience that they wanted to contribute.
At first, they talked about making this a torch run from the Hershey Medical Center to THON that would resemble the Olympic Torch run. The torch would be lit on the 7th floor by one of the kids and proceed to THON from there. Once at THON, they hoped to transfer the flame to a torch, symbolizing the start of THON. So they began working that angle until they were told how heavy the torches were. That became a deterrent, considering who might be carrying the torch along the way. The Anguses were determined. They still wanted the run, but needed a purpose. Since the intent of the run has always been a symbolic way of tying the families and activities at the Medical Center to THON, they started to think about how they could get the families involved. There are many families who will not be able to attend THON because their children are too sick to leave the hospital. They thought this run would be a great way for those families to express their regards to the kids at THON by sending a note or a letter. And so the THON Express was born, based on the Pony Express that ran tirelessly from point A to point B just to deliver a message, so will the Express runners carry those messages from the kids in Hershey to the dancers in State College!