News & Events
04/05/18
Marine dad takes on the Ironman 70.3 in race to beat neuroblastoma
Millie Mae Watkins, believed to have had an ear infection, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma
as military family relocated from Virginia to San Diego last summer

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Amelia Mae Watkins was 10 months old when she succumbed to neuroblastoma just eight days after her diagnosis. It hasn’t been a year since U.S. Marine Capt. John Watkins, his wife, Jayshree, and their 5-year-old son, Kaden, said goodbye to Millie, as she was known. Fighting back against neuroblastoma is one way the couple say they’ve made it through.

“When we were saying goodbye to her in the hospital, I told her ‘we have to do big things in your name.’ That’s how the idea for the Ironman was born,” Jayshree, 30, told the San Diego Tribune in a beautifully written article.

On Saturday, John will join his sister and three of his Marine comrades will compete as Team Millie Mae Strong in the Ironman 70.3 Oceanside in California to raise money for CNCF. John has maintained a grueling training regimen and the Watkins’ fundraising efforts tied to the race on April 7 have brought in more than $7,000 so far.
 
Last May, Watkins received orders to relocate from Virginia to the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in San Diego. Millie, believed to have been fighting an ear infection, became alarmingly ill. After a trip to urgent care in Texas, an emergency room visit in New Mexico, and eventually admittance to Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona, Millie was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma. She passed away eight days and one chemotherapy treatment later.

Since then, the Watkins have put their energy into raising awareness and doing everything in their power to ensure life-saving neuroblastoma research continues. Let’s get behind the Watkins family and get the word out! Follow MillieMaeStrong on Facebook and Instagram, and hashtag #MillieMaeStrong with #Ironman70.3 leading up to race day and beyond.

The Watkins have set up a web page at www.crowdrise.com/milliemaestrong where people can follow the team and pledge their support, including matching funds. Visit milliemaestrong.com to learn about the Watkins’ other fundraisers. Every effort moves us closer to a cure.