JAY — Team Keegan and Dawson will participate in the Dempsey Challenge in memory of Beonka Kessinger on Oct. 7.

“In February 2015, Kessinger was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer,” best friend Shawna Austin said. “She did everything she could but on June 13, 2016, cancer won the fight.”

Kessinger left behind sons Keegan Turner, 13, and Dawson Churchill, 5. Dawson’s father, Dana Churchill, is raising the boys.

“Beonka participated in a suicide walk and Pound the Pavement for Pancreatic Cancer,” Austin said. “She was active in a variety of fundraisers for other causes. She always felt strongly about that.”

Keegan, Dawson, Dana, Austin and her 16-year old son will take part in the Dempsey Challenge. Dawson will walk for part of the race and be pushed in a stroller the rest.

Austin and the boys created a poster and YouCaring page as a way to get sponsors. So far, $815 has been raised on the page. The original goal was $150; the current goal is $1,500.

“Every dollar they raise for the Dempsey Center and its services is matched by Positive Tracks,” Austin said.

Keegan has placed donation jars at Riverside Kwik Stop in Jay and My Dad’s Place in North Jay. The latter has also donated $150 to the team.

Keegan and Dana have been running daily and eating salads to prepare.

Austin hopes to raise awareness and get the word out so they can raise as much money as possible.

“I’m a jogger,” Austin said. “So many in this area are impacted by cancer.” 

“I’m doing this in Beonka’s name to give back to our community which gave so much more to us,” Dana said.

He said he hadn’t planned to run at first but changed his mind to be supportive for the children.

“Mom always helped,” Keegan said. “I did Pound the Pavement and other fundraisers with her and wanted to keep it going.”

“The Dempsey Center is a big bonus for anyone going through cancer,” Dana said.

“I’ll skip some of the race, get pushed part of it,” Dawson said. “It feels good that we’ve raised a lot more money than we tried.”

To donate on the team’s YouCaring page, visit www.youcaring.com/beonkakessingerallwhohavebeenimpactedbycancer-890867.

For more information or to suggest other ways to help, email Austin at [email protected]

For more information about the Dempsey Challenge, visit support.dempseychallenge.org.

For more information about Positive Tracks, visit www.positivetracks.org.

[email protected]

Team Keegan and Dawson is raising money for the Dempsey Challenge in memory of Beonka Kessinger of Jay. Donation jars have been placed in several Jay businesses and a YouCaring page established. Positive Tracks will match every dollar raised. Pictured from left are Dana Churchill, Dawson Churchill, Keegan Turner and Shawna Austin.

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