By Blair Drake, MOAA Contributing Editor
Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig, USA (Ret), has had many experiences during his life, but he never thought walking in a fashion show would be one of them.
In March, Craig, who is president of the Willow Grove (Pa.) Chapter, walked the runway in his dress blues alongside Jack, a 10-year-old boy who has been battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Jack’s dream is to become an Army military intelligence officer. He was among approximately 20 pediatric cancer patients who got to dress up as what they want to be when they grow up and walk the runway with adult role models who are in their dream professions.
This “Dream Walk” is the finale of the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s Fashion Funds the Cure event, which brings together runway fashion with the dreams of pediatric cancer patients. Fashion Funds the Cure events are held across the U.S. each year, and all proceeds benefit pediatric cancer research.
Craig got involved after the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation contacted MOAA’s Pennsylvania Council of Chapters about Jack and the event at the King of Prussia Mall. Council President Col. Harold Cooney, USA (Ret), then reached out to Craig to see whether someone in the chapter could carry out the mission. “I was really happy to say yes,” Craig says.
In addition to Jack meeting Craig, he also met local Junior ROTC cadets from nearby Norristown High School who served as the color guard for the event. “Their participation meant a lot,” Craig says. “They’re only a few years older than Jack and on the path he wants to one day be on. And, although they aren’t dealing with cancer, most of these kids also are overcoming adversity of their own.”
[RELATED: Chapter Member Volunteers at National Veterans Wheelchair Games]
Craig, who has continued to stay in touch with Jack since the event, has offered the 10-year-old some guidance on achieving his military dream. “We’ve talked about what it takes to be a good military officer, about going to college and setting your goals,” he says. “I recommended he take the path I took to get there: ROTC.”
Craig describes the experience as “extremely inspirational.”
“Cancer used to be considered a death sentence, and now you see these kids who have overcome so much and have done so well and you have all the advances in medical research,” he says.
“It’s incredible. I would be glad to do it again and would encourage others to do it or attend the event.”