On September 26, runners of all ages came out on a rainy day to participate in the 8th Annual Knights Challenge 5K and Family Fun Run. This year, all proceeds benefited the Pearlie Harris Center for Breast Health at Bon Secour St. Francis. Ms. Harris, for those readers who have not had the good fortune of meeting her yet, is a long time supporter of St. Joseph’s Catholic School and former Board of Trustee.
She has been with SJCS since the very beginning. According to Ms. Harris, Margaret Ann Moon had spoken to her about being an organizer of the school, but due to the fact she was a teacher at the time, she felt as it it might be a conflict of interest. As soon as she retired in 1994, she was in. Her journey with St. Joseph’s began with the school on Augusta in the little gray house to Washington Street to the beautiful place we are now.
Pearlie Harris served St. Joseph’s on the Board of Trustees until June of 2015 and still continues to advocate for our students, faculty and staff every chance she gets. She called her time on the board, “an exceptional journey and loved every year of it. The leadership of Margaret Ann Moon was most important, with a faith so strong and a deep devotion to Mary… she could not and would not do anything with out a prayer. She always said, ‘Saint Joseph’s is the work of God.’ This school has thrived in so many ways from the first graduating class until now. Many people asked me questions about teachers being paid, loans for the building, utilities and more and my answer was prayers and people like you. Leadership and teachers are the backbones of strength for this school.We have dedicated parents and a very strong community of supporters, giving of their talents, time and treasure. This is a great place to be and we are in a suburb place. There is no way you could not be PROUD of the accomplishments of St. Joseph’s.”
At the same time that Ms. Harris joined the St. Joseph’s family, she also joined the St. Francis family by stumbling on a volunteer position at the front desk. She was put to work after meeting with a friend of hers, Sam Francis, one Monday morning. She answered the telephone, delivered mail, addressed envelopes, delivered flowered and spoke with family members. From there, Ms. Harris was appointed to the Internal Review Board, Board of Trustees and later the Chair Woman of the Board.
The Pearlie Harris Center for Breast Health was given by someone who left a contribution to St. Francis Foundation in Ms. Harris’ honor. She chose breast health as where she thought a plaque would be placed on a door…she never expected it would have been an entire building. She recalls that she was in a meeting explaining what was being done in her honor but that through her tears she couldn’t hear a word that they said. She was just too honored and humbled. Of the Pearlie Harris Center, Ms. Harris continues to gush, “I am thankful for the great technology that is used, the nurses, navigators, and the doctors that are a part of this great team. They are dedicated, loving, compassionate, and very professional with every patient that enters their doors. The focus is on hope, love and healing for all men and women. We pray that one day we can conquer this disease, but in the meantime with the help of God we will continue to help fight breast cancer. Being a faith based hospital system I am proud to say the Devotional Huddle each day is what brings the group together in unity and love.”
St. Joseph’s found it only appropriate to give back to the woman who gives so much to our school and to the community. Participants dressed from head to toe in pink, white, and blue to show their support on their run. Congratulations to junior Ford McCoy who placed first in the 5K race with a time of 20:50. A special congratulations to Sam Nixon for winning “Best Dressed,” as he was especially supportive in a pink tutu, heart stickers up his legs, and pink hair. Congratulations to the Tierney MS Household and the Palmer HS Household for winning the Household participation contest. A special thanks to Coach George Carr, Coach Marie Kernell, the Boys & Girls Cross-Country Teams, Advancement Representatives, Francis Produce, Greenfield’s Bagels & Deli, First Team Sports, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, as well as many others who lent their support for this event.