MIHS grads launch 5k run for cancer

Cousins Bennett Addision, Sperry Robinson and David Addison stand behind the
Cousins Bennett Addision, Sperry Robinson and David Addison stand behind the 'Purple Potty,' part of their Relay for Life fundraising event.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Two Mercer Island High School graduates are starting a new Relay for Life event on Mercer Island. Bennett and David Addison, along with their cousin, Sperry Robinson, are organizing the Island’s first Relay for Life 5k run/walk at Luther Burbank on April 26.

Moved by the brave struggle of Robinson's mother against cancer, which she lost two years ago, the three cousins set out to establish their own Relay for Life event, which raises money for the American Cancer Society.

“I’ve done Relay for Life before, but it wasn’t as meaningful to me as it is now, [after losing my aunt] to cancer,” Bennett Addison said, referring to the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising event, which takes place across the nation every spring. “We wanted to organize another relay event on our own.”

At 8 a.m. on April 26, their efforts will be realized in the first 5k Relay for Life run/walk at Luther Burbank. The three 20-somethings already have sponsors — Jock and Jill, Emerald City Smoothie, QFC, College Pro Painters and Mercer Island Primary Care — for the event and a course mapped out at Luther Burbank.

“The city has been really cooperative,” Bennett Addison said, explaining that obtaining a permit for the race “wasn’t that difficult.”

In addition to securing sponsors and support from the city, the cousins have already raised attention among Island residents — in a very unconventional manner.

Two weeks ago, the group placed a purple-painted toilet on an Island resident’s front lawn with a note reading “Please donate to Relay for Life, and we’ll move this for you.” The “Purple Potty,” as the cousins are calling it, has already been relocated to dozens of Island houses. Each family that donates money gets to choose the Purple Potty’s next destination. Despite its appearance, most Islanders are tickled to see the toilet pop up in their yards — once they realize its significance, Addison said.

“They get really excited about it,” the 2004 MIHS graduate said, adding that word has already spread about the porcelain yard-hopper. “We have a sign on the toilet that reads ‘Flush Cancer,’ and most people are really eager to pass it on to friends.”

The group has also put up signs — a more traditional approach — in key Island areas, informing residents of the event.

The goal, Addison said, is to have 150 to 200 participants in the April 26 race.

So far, most who have signed up are family and friends. The MIHS track and cross country teams have volunteered to help set up the 3.1 mile course and provide race equipment. The base registration cost is $25 per person. There will be three races: a female 5k run (9:30 a.m.), male 5k run (10:15 a.m.) and a 5k walk (10:45 a.m.). Prizes, from the event sponsors, will be given to the top finishers, as well as every participant.

The April 26 event is in addition to the Relay for Life held at Mercer Island High School in May. This spring will be the 10th year that the 24-hour relay around Islander Stadium — organized by MIHS students — takes place.

To register for the 5k race/walk at Luther Burbank, visit:, enter “Relay for Life 98040” in the search menu and click “register now.” Participants can also register on the day of the event for $30.

Editor's note: The print version of this story incorrectly identifies Addison's cousin as Sarah McFadden. Addison's cousin is actually Sperry Robinson, whose mother passed away from cancer two years ago. The Reporter regrets this error.

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