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Roy wants schools to help his challenge

Time is running out for schools to participate in the Roy Henson 50-yard challenge.

Henson, who left his wheelchair in an attempt to walk 50 yards after a Central High School football game last year, raised $11,000 for St. Francois County Relay For Life. Henson was born with Cerebral Palsy and has spent most of his life in a wheelchair.

This year, he is putting a spin on the challenge.

“I have come up with a fun way to determine where I attempt my challenge, with it being a friendly competition between school districts,” Henson said.

So far, only one school has committed to participate in the challenge.

The rules are open to any school, not just local schools, who want to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The schools have from now until Sept. 30 to raise as much money as they can, in any way that they can. Henson hopes student councils will take over this project to get students involved as well as to teach responsibility. The walk will be held at a football game on the first or second Friday of October at the school that raises the most money.

“My suggestion is for one of the first two Fridays in October because I could be bringing ‘special’ guests and I need a specific date,” Henson said with a smile.

Henson only walked 38 of the 50 yards last year. If he walks 39-40 yards, the host school (the one that raises the most money) will only have to donate one-third of the money they raised. The rest of the participating schools will only have to donate one-half and keep the rest of the money. The student councils of the schools will be able to decide how the other half will be spent to make academic improvement to the school.

If Henson fails to meet his 39 yard goal, all the schools get to keep whatever money they raise to make improvements to their school. If Henson makes the full 50 yards, he receives the amounts pledged by all schools who participate, and splits the money with the school where the walk is held.

Tom Gibson, a close friend of Henson’s, said everyone’s been affected by cancer and is proud to be a part of this as a way to give back.

Gibson helped Henson train both last year and this year for the 50-yard challenge.

“Roy came to me one day and said, ‘I think I have an idea how to raise money for Relay For Life,” Gibson said.

“All I had to do is take him to the football field and the track,” he explained. “He does all the work.”

Gibson said that there are several ways for schools and kids to get involved and they don’t have to be time consuming.

“It is hard work to achieve your goals,” Gibson said. “Last year, after the Central game, people didn’t care who won or lost, they just wanted to see Roy walk.

“Both teams were rooting for the same thing,” Gibson said.

There has been much talk and speculation about who the ‘special’ guests Henson would have with him would be.

Although, nothing is confirmed yet, Katy Kruze of KSHE radio and Steve Ewing from The Urge have agreed to attend if they are available.

Kruze, has became a fan of Henson over the years.

“In my almost two decades in radio I have had the opportunity to meet literally thousands of people.  Every once and a while I cross paths with someone who’s story is so extraordinary they make an incredible impact on me. Roy is one of those people who’s tremendous strength, courage, and heart is so inspiring, it is infectious,” Kruze said.

“It is hard because I don’t have a definite date to tell them,” Henson said.

Those are only two of the special guests and a few other big names are in the works once a final date is set.

The deadline is noon, Sept. 30 for schools to raise the money. Henson hopes to have the guests confirmed not long after he is able to set a date with the winning school.

He asked that no pledges or donations go to him, but to donate money to a participating school in his name. The end totals may be e-mailed to Henson at

So far, Central is the only school that has confirmed they are raising money for the challenge. Several other area schools are talking about it.

Henson has arranged with a local business to make T-shirts in the schools’ colors, which each school can order to sell for $10 each. That money can be added to their total. You may contact him for more information.

Jessica Crepps is a staff writer for the Daily Journal. You may reach her at 573-431-2010 ext. 143 or

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