‘Hope Pray Believe:’ Colerain family holds 5K in honor of late son

More than 1,200 runners and walkers came out for the race on the morning of July 4th.
Tony Merk died 11 years ago from brain cancer. His family puts on an annual 5k race in his honor.
Tony Merk died 11 years ago from brain cancer. His family puts on an annual 5k race in his honor.(Provided)
Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 7:57 PM EDT
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COLERAIN TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WXIX) - For one local family, the 4th of July is a day to honor a life they lost too young by continuing his fight against childhood cancer.

The Merk family live in Colerain Township. Eleven years ago Monday, they lost Tony, 6, to brain cancer.

That’s why every July 4th, Rick and Lynn Merk, Tony’s parents, host one of Cincinnati’s biggest races—the Pray Hope Believe Foundation 5K.

Tony was an active kid, playing sports and riding his bike and showing off a smile as big as the oversized sunglasses that adorn his face in photos from years past. That’s why Rick says the race was a perfect fit.

“He would love this event,” Rick said speaking to FOX19′s Joe Danneman. “The spirit you feel today, Joe, that’s Tony.”

More than 1,200 runners and walkers participated Monday. The race has raised more than $650,000 for childhood research in its first ten installments.

“My reward—our reward—for doing this is seeing those kids who have a better quality of life because of what we’re doing,” Rick said.

Rick has been a mainstay at the end of each race, waiting at the finish line to thank each and every runner.

“You know, we have kids who are in the battle right now,” Lynn said. “And we know how much it means to have support.”

“This is a mission of love for us,” Rick added. “We need to do better for those kids and those parents.”

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