PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – KOIN 6 News and Portland’s CW are running in this year’s Hood to Coast race for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — aiming to raise $30,000 for their mission of finding cures and saving children.

Since they opened in 1962, treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80%. They’ve helped kids from all 50 states and around the world.

The Janku family, from Vancouver, Washington shared their story of survival after their then-3-year-old son Gideon was diagnosed with a rare form of melanoma in 2013.

Gideon’s mother, Dee-anna Janku, said Gideon was referred to a dermatologist for a spot on his cheek and later visited local children’s hospitals, however, the doctors didn’t know how to treat him.

“They’d never seen this particular subtype. They didn’t know how to treat it and so further testing showed us that it was stage four and when we learned that, really our only option was to go to St. Jude,” Janku explained.

At St. Jude, Janku said the doctors were able to treat Gideon and were thankful that the hospital covered all the costs.

“It accomplishes the purpose that [St. Jude Founder Danny Thomas] has when he decided that no family would ever receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food. He said all families should focus on is helping their child live and that’s what we get to do. We got to make decisions for his care based solely on what was needed and what was best. Not on whether insurance would cover it or if we can afford it,” Janku said.

Doctors at the research hospital removed a 3.5-inch by 1.5-inch tumor from Gideon’s cheek and later provided plastic surgery to help remove potential scarring on his face, Janku said.

Now 13 years old, Gideon remembers the doctors who helped him, adding, “St. Jude is a hospital that saved my life and I know that people who donate are directly helping save other kids just like me.”