Man to run 3 days straight to honor Phoebe Jonchuck
By Cait McVey, Reporter
Friday marks the one year anniversary of the death of 5-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck, who investigators say was thrown from the Dick Misener bridge by her father.
Former Army Ranger Alex Estrella remembers reading the headlines the day after it happened. Estrella said the horrific incident has haunted him ever since, despite never knowing the little girl or her family.
“I think we all have that compassion inside of us,” Estrella said. “We feel for each other. We’re only human beings.”
In an effort to honor Phoebe’s memory, Estrella has decided to run. He will begin at Shriners International Headquarters in Tampa and run all the way to Pier 60 in Clearwater, a distance of 17 miles.
Estrella plans to continue running back and forth for three days straight and hopes the publicity he drums up will motivate people to donate to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Tampa.
Phoebe Jonchuck, 5, died after police say her father John Jonchuck Jr. threw her off the Dick Misener Bridge.
Estrella said he chose the organization after speaking with Phoebe’s grandmother.
“Phoebe cared so much about her classmates,” Estrella said. “Always asking her grandmother to wait for her to help some other kid who dropped their books. She was the kind of kid who cared about so many other children.” And now, Estrella hopes his run will help raise money for children who need medical care through Shriners.
“Believe me, if I know about heaven, Phoebe will be happy to know that she is going to continue helping other children because of what happened to her,” he said. Estrella will begin running at 12:30 p.m. Friday and run continuously through Sunday. To make a donation, go to http://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/locations/tampa.