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PHOTOS: Color run 5K held for this Dawson County teen fighting brain cancer
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Palmour family friend Anastasia Smith relishes being dusted with vibrant blue chalk during the the second annual MasonStrong 5K on May 13 at Rock Creek Park. This year’s event was a color run to raise funds for Dawson County teen Mason Palmour, who’s battling cancer. - photo by Julia Hansen

Seventeen-year-old Mason Palmour and his family were recently reminded just how far-reaching the caring community of people was for the Dawson County teen, who’s been diagnosed with a rare type of brain cancer. 

The second annual MasonStrong 5K was held May 13 at Rock Creek Park to help raise funds for the teen’s continued medical and living expenses. 

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Mason Palmour was recently given a mixed-breed service dog named Blue. Photo submitted to DCN. - photo by Julia Hansen

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Roughly $17,000 or about enough for one month’s at-home intravenous treatment was raised to help Mason, said event organizer and his cousin, Dakota Shelton. 

This year’s 5K featured a color run, where vibrantly-colored powders were thrown onto participants throughout the course. 

“I can't express how amazed I am at the generosity and compassion this community has shown. We are so grateful,” said Mason’s father, Robert Palmour. “Dakota Shelton worked really hard and did an outstanding job putting on this fundraiser, and everyone had such a great time! We are very blessed!”

The over 180 attendees ranged from friends, family and neighbors in the Dawson, Cumming and Dahlonega areas to one family from across the country. 

Aimee Littrell and her family traveled all the way from Seattle, Washington to take part in the 5K color run. Littrell is a patient of the same Cumming-based Genesis Clinic at which Mason’s mother, Alison Palmour, has worked. 

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Friends and family of Seattle woman Aimee Littrell, center, gather around her to celebrate her completion of the MasonStrong 5K. - photo by Julia Hansen

Though it took her a little longer to finish the course than others, the experience was well worth it for Littrell. 

“We heard there would be a 5K, and were like, ‘We’re coming to it,’” Littrell said. “They’ve become like our family and we’re just giving our support.”

In November of 2021, Mason Palmour was diagnosed with stage four Glioblastoma, a rare type of brain cancer.

Since that time, Mason and his family have watched the teen persevere, celebrating when he finally secured access to at-home cancer treatments last year from the Houston-based Burzynski Clinic, a facility that’s had success with curing Glioblastoma in other patients. 

About three months ago, Mason started experiencing a severe headache, vomiting, facial numbness, and trouble with speech. After being admitted to the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospital (CHOA), tumor growth was confirmed with an MRI scan. 

However, the tumor found then was “definitely smaller” than the one Mason had had removed, his father, Robert, previously said. 

Since the hospital stay, Mason has returned to doing homebound education for the time being to help him rest and recover. He is in the process of  transitioning to new medications from the renowned Burzynski Clinic.

The newer medications have caused Mason’s tumor to negatively respond, leading to the teen losing some of the speech and mobility capabilities he’s been working to regain, Alison said. 

“At this point, we’re just praying that the new meds do what they’re supposed to do,” she added. 

During Mason’s cancer journey, multiple in-person and online fundraisers have been hosted to help him and his family, from last year’s 5K to a “punt, pass and kick” event and several other gatherings. 

To date, people have donated over $57,000 to the teen’s GoFundMe campaign and more than $12,500 to his Angels Touch Charity fundraiser

The teen has also been given the opportunity to attend a University of Georgia football game and meet some of the players and take part in fishing and hunting tournaments. 

Mason has also been blessed by the Make-A-Wish Georgia twice. 

In September, a Dawson County High School alumnus who’d battled cancer, Max Grant, gave his wish to Mason and helped surprise the younger teen with a custom 1992 Chevy C1500 pickup truck. 

Then in March, Mason finally saw his specific request from Make-A-Wish fulfilled–a boat for him to continue his joy of fishing. 

And now, a new member has joined Mason’s family—a mixed-breed service dog named Blue. 

“As soon as I crossed the finish line, I said to myself [that] I did this for Mason and for the three of them because it means a lot to me. Mason is not alone–I’m always there to support and to help out, including the family.”
MasonStrong 5K first-place runner Edward Dickerson

Through all of that, Mason and his family have come to treasure the range of local support. Indeed, multiple friends Alison met while working at the Genesis Clinic showed up at the 5K. 

”They’ve come because of the relationships we built up over time, and they’ve come to follow Mason’s journey,” Alison said. 

Palmour family friend Anastasia Smith was among the top runners during the 5K. For her, taking part was personal. 

Ten years ago, her son, Kenny Stewart, died from cancer. Now, her son Alex is best friends with Mason and a fellow teammate with him on the DCHS football team, Smith said. 

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Haley Gayton, Malina Palmour and Mason’s nephew, Brooks, gleefully throw colored powder at teenage runner Logan Devlin as he reaches the 5K’s finish line. - photo by Julia Hansen

Elizabeth Hood attended the 5K with her children. Her late husband passed away from cancer in January and also went to the Genesis Clinic in Cumming.

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Eight-year-old Audrey Hood giddily runs through a cloud of pink chalk after being doused with color by volunteers. - photo by Julia Hansen

“It’s a good way to get out and support someone else through our pain,” Hood said of the 5K. “

Everyone has kind of embraced us and lifted us up, so we’re trying to give it back when we can.”

Attendees continued sharing story after story of why they wanted to support Mason and his family members. 

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Dahlonega participant Edward Dickerson, far left, leads the pack as the second annual MasonStrong 5K commences on May 13. - photo by Julia Hansen

First-place runner Edward Dickerson of Dahlonega ran in this 5K after also participating in the run for the teen last year. Dickerson explained that during the event, he thought not only of  Mason, but also of his grandfather, his sister-in-law’s papa and a friend who have cancer.

“As soon as I crossed the finish line, I said to myself [that] I did this for Mason and for the three of them because it means a lot to me,” Dickerson said. “Mason is not alone–I’m always there to support and to help out, including the family.”