26 Cleveland runners preparing for One Fund journey to Boston
by DELANEY WALKER, Banner Staff Writer
Jul 24, 2013 | 1738 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
1,000 miles to go
MATT RYERSON, United Way of Bradley County CEO and president, displayed a map marking the 1,000-mile route to be taken by 26 local runners from Cleveland to Boston next April. Money raised will go toward The One Fund, money used to aid victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Banner photo, DELANEY WALKER
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Cheers erupted on either side as runners made their way toward the promised finish line. Twenty-six miles lay behind them. Perseverance, training and the challenge of finishing the Boston Marathon had brought them this far.

In comparison to the overall distance, the finish line lay steps away.

Suddenly, two deafening bombs exploded within a few seconds of each other. Bodies flew to the ground as people jumped the barricades. Chaos and panic ensued as policemen, emergency workers and Good Samaritans tried to make sense of the aftermath.

Three died as a result of the Tsarnaev brothers’ bombs.

Hundreds were injured.

Fifteen suffered amputations with two losing both legs.

Matt Ryerson, United Way CEO and president, explained to the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland in a recent luncheon The One Fund was established to assist victims and families affected by the Boston Bombings.

Currently, more than $64 million has been raised.

Local runners from organizations across Bradley County recently banded together to host the Run Now 5K event. Ryerson said he and his friends hoped to attract 20 to 30 participants. The goal was to raise about $500.

Nearly $2,000 was raised through donations, T-shirt sales and participation fees.

Fred Garmon, People for Care and Learning executive director, used the unexpected turnout to make an announcement.

Twenty-six runners from Cleveland would be raising money for the One Fund through a sponsored 1,000-mile run from Cleveland to Boston.

Their goal is to raise $50,000 for the cause. Their mission: to aid the 15 amputees, some of whom were children.

“Children who lost legs because these terrorists attacked supporters,” Ryerson said. “That just hit us hard.”

Expenses following an amputation do not end at the hospital door. Prosthetics, physical therapy, alterations to car and home and other changes cost money. The bill is even higher for children.

“Kids, as they grow, outgrow their prosthetic legs. They need a new prosthetic leg about every 12 months, depending on the child,” Ryerson said. “The cost of the average prosthetic leg is anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 a year.”

He asked Kiwanians to think about the cost a child would incur over the years.

“We have legs and we get to go to the Greenway every day and run three or four miles. ... We take for granted our legs and how important they are to us,” Ryerson said. “These kids’ lives have been changed forever, because they don’t have one of their legs.”

The goal amount would only raise enough money for two prosthetic legs.

Ryerson said those two legs will still have a life-changing impact on a child’s life.

Cleveland’s 26 runners hope to leave on Saturday, April 12. They will run relay style 24 hours a day, for 7 1/2 days. The runners, representing each mile in a marathon, will arrive at the Boston Marathon Boylston Street finish line on Sunday, April 20. This will be a day before the next Boston Marathon is set to begin.

Ryerson assured Kiwanians he was not running all 1,000 miles straight.

“Each one of us will be running five to eight miles per day for 7 1/2 days,” Ryerson said. “That will give us a total of 40 to 50 miles over the course of the week.”

Continued Ryerson, “Now [relay running] is not nearly as difficult, but is certainly still challenging. I generally do not run back-to-back days. My body needs recovery time. ... I usually run one, two, three days a week at the most.”

Supporters will be able to track the runners via GPS.

Ryerson said they will be running rain, sleet or sunshine.

“I tell you what, as a kid you just deserve to be a kid. You shouldn’t have to deal with this because two hateful people came to our country and did such a devastating act,” Ryerson said. “We feel it is the least we can do to bring attention to this.”