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Meet honoree David and runner Dave

May is brain tumor awareness month, a time to raise awareness and educate the community about brain tumors. It is also a time that we reflect more often about David Pearson, the inspiration behind the Dragon Master Initiative, and our dedication to supporting those affected by this particularly devastating disease.

David was an adventurous and charismatic kid who radiated joy wherever he went. He thrived on being different, mingling with others outside his core friends, and was always eager to try new things. David’s love for animals was evident from a young age, as he could name every resident creature of the San Diego Zoo at just three years old. Nature was his sanctuary, and though he preferred the tranquility of open spaces over the hustle and bustle of cities, he still found joy in the bright lights of Broadway.

David’s curiosity led him to explore Latin, which intrigued him due to its uniqueness. Another interest in David’s life was learning about Asian culture and how it plays out in Hawaii.  He had an extensive collection of Aloha shirts as a testament to this appreciation. In his colorful world, joy was a constant companion. David was a shining example of happiness and warmth.

On January 15, David’s birthday, his family celebrates “Hug Like David Day” to spread love and kindness to others, just as David did in his life. They encourage people to wear Aloha shirts, eat great food, and appreciate life.

During his battle with Glioblastoma Multiforme, David fought with incredible strength and courage for 21 months before passing away on May 11, 2012. His legacy lives on through the Dragon Master Initiative, an organization dedicated to finding cures for brain cancer and other types of rare cancer and disease.

David may have left this world, but his spirit lives on in the hearts of those who knew and loved him. His joyful essence inspires others to embrace life, spread kindness, and never give up in adversity. David’s story reminds us to cherish every moment and positively impact the world.


Runner Spotlight

Meet Dave, a music photographer in the Baltimore/DC area whose passion for running has turned into a beautiful tribute to his friend Josh. Inspired by a friend to start running, Dave signed up for the 2020 Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend only to have

it canceled due to COVID-19. Undeterred, he ran the races virtually and went on to complete his first Disney race at the 2021 Wine and Dine event. After completing the Dopey Challenge in 2023, he decided to run Dopey again in 2024. Inspired by the late Josh’s love for dragons, Dave chose to run for Team Fired Up for Dragon Master Initiative.

Josh’s love for dragons was so deep that his body was covered in dragon tattoos, but the dragons didn’t have eyes on them. Traditionally, in Eastern art, when an art piece of a dragon is created, the eyes can not be finished, or the dragon will fly away from the canvas. Upon Josh’s death, Dave and Josh’s other friends hired a tattoo artist to fill in the eyes of all his tattoos to set his dragons free. Believing that one of these dragons led Dave to Dragon Master Initiative, Dave finds comfort in honoring his friend’s memory by raising awareness and funds for such a meaningful cause. In a world filled with loss and heartache, Dave’s unwavering dedication to honoring Josh’s legacy through running and fundraising is genuinely inspiring.


Dave’s Fundraising Idea:

Dave pledged one minute of running for every dollar donated over one week, which resulted in a joyful 6-and-a-half-hour run on the weekend. The experience was fun and challenging, and he raised $390 towards his goal. Dave’s excitement for new fundraising ideas for his 2025 Dopey challenge shows his dedication to making it entertaining and challenging, promising even more enjoyable experiences for those involved.


Author: Sarah Zuk