Superheroes do some pretty amazing things, such as thwarting villains and saving people. In life, Chantilly’s Jeffrey Virostek only got to pretend to be a superhero; but in death, he’s become a real one.
He was only 4 in September 2003 when he succumbed to acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). But a fund his parents started in his name has enabled many nonprofit organizations to help other children in their battles against cancer.
Every year on Mother’s day, residents of Jeffrey’s community, Poplar Tree Estates, hold the Angel Kisses 5K run and 2K walk in his honor. Proceeds go to the Jeffrey Virostek Memorial Fund and, since its inception, his parents, Tasha and Stephen, have contributed more than $230,000 to it.
“Angel Kisses keeps Jeffrey close to our hearts and helps others,” said Tasha Virostek. “And it’s a great way for people to come out and support a great cause and have fun.”
This year’s event, the 11th annual, will be held this Sunday, May 11, at 8 a.m. It starts and ends at the Poplar Tree Estates Swim and Tennis Club, 13516 Point Pleasant Drive. However, due to construction on Stringfellow Road, the USATF-certified course had to be altered. For a route map, to register or to volunteer, go to www.angelkisses-5K.org.
The course goes through paved, residential streets. For the safety of the participants, no strollers, baby joggers, pets or headphones are permitted in the 5K. However, strollers, baby joggers and pets are welcome in the 2K. Parking will be available on side streets off Point Pleasant Drive, but not on Point Pleasant, itself, during the race.
Online registration is 5K, $30; 2K, $20, through May 8. Afterward, it’s $35 and $25. Walk-in registration and packet pickup are Friday, May 9, from 6-8 p.m.; Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; and race day, Sunday, May 11, from 6:30-7:30 a.m., at the Swim and Tennis Club.
The online registration will never close before the race, so people may register from home or their iPhones on the race weekend. The system updates immediately so their registration packets will be waiting for them when they arrive at Packet Pickup.
Transponder timing will be used to score the 5K race via a disposable, computer tag attached to the backs of the runners’ bibs. Participants receive commemorative T-shirts, and prizes will be awarded to the top two male and female finishers, plus the top two finishers in various age categories
The event happens rain or shine, and last year’s Angel Kisses drew 830 participants and raised more than $43,000. Over the years, it’s come to be a cherished, Mother’s Day tradition in Poplar Tree Estates. Jeffrey’s remembered not only by those who loved him, but by an entire community that turns out for this race in his honor.
The money raised helps organizations such as D.C. Candlelighters, which provides emotional, educational and financial support to local families with children fighting cancer. And the Virosteks are glad to lend a hand.
“Every day, another child is diagnosed with cancer,” said Jeffrey’s mom. “And the families go through such turmoil that we want to be able to help them through it with whatever we can do for them. So we’re looking forward to another successful race.”
Jeffrey Virostek was jut 2 when he was diagnosed with AML. He went into remission after aggressive treatment and a bone-marrow transplant; and for nine months, he was able to be a fun-loving, playful little boy again. But the disease returned around his 4th birthday.
“He fought like a superhero,” said Virostek. “But he lost his battle on Sept. 25, 2003.”
Angel Kisses began on Mother’s Day 2004. The idea for it came from Virostek family friend and neighbor, Tracy Rickard. Remembering how Jeffrey loved running back and forth when she played Tickle Monster with him, Rickard said, “I thought we could hold a race in his name. There are lots of runners in our neighborhood, and I figured it would be something kids could be involved in, too.”
Jeffrey’s mother named the event. “I was looking for a name for his memorial fund,” she said. “And when he passed away, I looked down at him and thought, ‘He’s a little angel sending us kisses.’”