Chrise’s Dare to Dream 5K honors 1997 FTHS graduate

Proceeds will support research in fight against lung cancer


Chrise Briggs Murrell, a 1997 graduate of Freehold Township High School, was only 31 years old when she died from lung cancer in June, leaving her husband, Andy, and their son, Drew, 6, in Katy, Texas, where she lived.

In her memory, the first Chrise’s Dare to Dream 5K, a rain-or-shine event, will be held at the Freehold Township High School track on Nov. 27. The high school is on Elton-Adelphia Road, Freehold Township.

Registration will start at 9 a.m. and the 5-kilometer run will go off at 10:30 a.m. The event is open to all members of the community.

“I want to put a young face on lung cancer, which is often thought to be an old person’s disease due to smoking,” said Donna Briggs, Chrise’s mother and the organizer of the 5K event. “Chrise was a nonsmoker, a long-distance marathon runner, a yoga instructor and a junior high school math teacher with no symptoms when she was diagnosed with lung cancer at the age of 30 in December 2009.”

Briggs, a resident of Freehold Township for more than 30 years, said the “Dare to Dream” wants to stamp out lung cancer. The timing of the 5K run/walk event corresponds to November, which is recognized as Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

Briggs said an important goal of the event is to bring about awareness of lung cancer, which statistics show kills more women than breast, ovarian and uterine cancer combined, and that the fastest-growing demographic of lung cancer cases is in women between the ages of 30 and 32.

She said proceeds of the event will benefit the Lung Cancer Research Foundation in New York and the establishment of a Chrise Briggs Murrell Scholarship Fund for outstanding athletes attending Freehold Township High School.

Briggs said her son, Todd Briggs, who is a Freehold Township graduate, is a history teacher and coach at the school and is working out the details of the scholarship. He lives in Freehold Township with his wife, Vita, and their children, Sophia and Natalie.

She said her oldest son, Steve, another Freehold Township graduate, lives in North Carolina with his wife, Rachel, and their children, Katie and Jenny. He is gathering pledges there and will attend the 5K event in Freehold Township.

“I am really excited about the response to the 5K,” said Briggs, who has remarried after the death of her first husband, Stephen Briggs, in 1992. She now lives in Princeton with her husband, Donald Deieso. “The Internet and Facebook contacts, plus family and friends, have just been wonderful to get the word out.”

Chrise’s best friend, Heather McGraw, of Long Branch, is coordinating the 5K event. Together with her sister, Kelley Mc- Graw, of Howell, McGraw said she is making arrangements for the 5K, such as the insurance, sponsors and spreading the news about the event.

“Chrise was a marathon runner and I absolutely believe she would want this way to bring awareness to lung cancer,” she said. “I hope we have a good turnout this first year and that Chrise’s Dare to Dream 5K will continue to grow with help of many people.”

Chrise’s mother said contributions have come from her daughter’s sorority, Gamma Phi Beta at Rutgers University. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications in 2001. Chrise also received a Master of Arts degree in marketing from Syracuse University in 2005.

Many of the business sponsors for the 5K, said Briggs, are classmates or friends of Chrise and have helped pay for the insurance, the T-shirts, prizes and refreshments for the event. The sponsors include Twin Pond Farm, Howell; Solo Bella Italian Restaurant, Jackson; Start to Finish, Freehold; Adpro Imprints, Farmingdale; two Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Freehold; GMI Home Loans LLC, Morganville; and Professional Hair Design and Kids Cuts, Freehold.

Also, Gold’s Gym, Old Bridge; LOOK Design Studio LLC, Jersey City; NVS Events, Jersey City; and Solace Day Spa, Old Bridge.

The registration fee will be $15 on the day of the event. All participants will receive a T-shirt as long as supplies last. Donations, with check payable to Chrise’s Dare to Dream 5K, may be sent to Chrise’s Dare to Dream 5K, 3587 Route 9 north, No. 239, Freehold, NJ 07728.

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