OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The inaugural DIPG Warrior Walk in Ocean Springs drew about 400 participants.
To many, this was a long time coming. The event stirred new hope that more awareness will finally lead to a cure.
You have to know your enemy to beat it.
"We've got to be aware of it," said Angel Myers, whose daughter Sophia Myers died of the disease in 2017. "The more we're aware, the more people will care about it because it is do devastating to these kids and their families. And educate people. We do those things, we'll get a cure."
Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma is a rare and deadly pediatric brain cancer.
Two other children in Ocean Springs have died from it: Sophia Mohler in 2010 and Jaxon Schoenberger in 2014.
This walk, organized by The Cure Starts Now Foundation, is adding a chorus of voices to those of Angel Myers and others.
"I had hoped for it," she said. "We prayed for it. And we're grateful for it."
Theresa Mohler, mother of Sophia Mohler, said events like this gives support to other families to speak up and be brave.
"There's safety in numbers," she said. "So, this has brought us together with other families. It brings you strength and it brings us hope, and that's what we're here for today."
Theresa and David Mohler, owners of Tato Nut in Ocean Springs, say they had no one to lean on who had fought the same battle.
"It's sad that we had to get to this point," David Mohler said. "But it looks like we're moving forward and hopefully we have some very positive things come out of this. It's great to see all the support. Really. It's a lot of love."
Keith Desserich is co-founder of The Cure Starts Now Foundation.
His daughter was just the third recorded case of DIPG in the country 10 years ago.
He said it can take time for some families suffering from this disease to have enough courage to join that chorus of support, but it will come.
"It sometimes becomes less about our own children and more about trying to prevent the next case of DIPG and trying to help the next parents behind us," said Desserich.
That is Myers' goal: to pay it forward.
"I've had a heart change," she said. "It's just changed everything about me. Not only will I spend the rest of my life looking for a cure, but I will spend the rest of my life paying this community back for what ya'll did for my family."
Organizers said with the kind of turnout for the walk, they believe they will raise more than the $10,000 goal.