Evan Sanders has run many marathons and triathlons in his career, but the St. Jude Memphis Marathon will always be special.
Globally there are more than 300,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year. At around the age of 13, he was one of them.
A sneeze caused him to collapse one summer, and X-rays confirmed the dreaded C-word: cancer in his back. While undergoing treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, he watched his dad and cousin run the race from his wheelchair.
Now, 15 years later and a Lockheed Martin mechanical engineer in Camden, Arkansas, he’s one of those runners.
“To take the first step toward a new thing, whether that’s running or overcoming cancer, that first step is often the hardest,” Sanders said.
He also said he still gets teary-eyed running through the campus for the race annually.
“I feel really lucky to have come from that. Surviving cancer changes who you are and your perspective on things. That brush with death helps you to know how fleeting some things can be and gives you a thankfulness to be alive.”
This year’s St. Jude Memphis Marathon will be Nov. 29 - Dec. 5 and operate a little differently – completely virtual with funds raised going toward the children’s hospital.
Sanders is just one of the many Lockheed Martin employees who give back to their communities by "doing what's right.” In 2019, Lockheed Martin employees donated more than $10 million to charitable causes of their choice.
Employees like Sanders, a running miracle himself, bring to life and embody the mindset of giving back every day.
Sanders has a message for those battling cancer right now, and it’s not letting your environment or situation define you. You have the power to overcome your battles, he said.
“Doctors didn’t expect me to go out and run marathons or do an Ironman after this type of treatment,” he said. ““But bodies heal, and over time you can get better, win those battles, and come out on top. “