Twenty-six Cleveland men and women who comprise the Run Now Relay team will run more than 1,000 miles from Tennessee, starting at Lee University and arriving in Boston the day before Patriots Day in honor of the victims of last year’s Boston Marathon terrorist bombing.
“This was a devastating, tragic event where hundreds of people were injured, three people were killed and we felt compelled to do something,” said Matt Ryerson, president and CEO of United Way of Bradley County Inc.
Ryerson, an avid runner who is co-organizing the northern trek, updated members of the Cleveland Kiwanis Club during a recent luncheon.
“The running community is incredibly supportive of one another,” Ryerson said. “They are encouraging and take care of each other. The entire spirit of this relay is that these runners care about the people in Boston regardless of not knowing them, and want to support them.”
Taking Route 11, the team will leave the morning of April 12 to run through seven states and 40 to 50 cities with five vehicles for safety precautions and should get to Boston eight days later.
“It is quite daunting, but it is something we are slowly piecing together to try to get everything worked out as we go. We will have one vehicle behind each runner with back-up runners to periodically take their place when needed. They will run five to seven miles each,” said Ivey Lawrence, with People for Care and Learning.
The team’s route will take the runners through cities like Cleveland, Knoxville and Bristol in Tennessee; Roanoke and Charlottesville in Virginia; and Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, Hartford, Conn., and Boston.
“Our goal is to raise $50,000 and People for Care and Learning has agreed to be the fiscal agent, managing our donations, and is taking zero administrative expense which means every dollar given will go directly to our charitable partners, Dream Big and One Step Ahead Foundation. It will be split up to where half, $25,000, goes to one partner and the other half goes to the other,” Ryerson said.
One Step Ahead Foundation is based in New York and is dedicated to giving children with physical disabilities positive experiences through sports to build confidence, courage, and friendship, increase self-esteem, and create a better sense of self-worth, all while giving them a positive experience they will use throughout the rest of their lives.
“They specifically deal with amputees and our hope is to potentially [pay for] one prosthetic limb to one of the kids that lost a limb at the Boston Marathon,” Lawrence said.
Dream Big helps low-income/homeless girls in Boston achieve their dreams by providing the basic items necessary to enable them to participate in sports and physical activity, helping to lay the foundation for healthy, active lifestyles and quality learning experiences.
“We have terrific sponsors. There are an extraordinary number of sponsors that have rallied behind this to make sure that all donations go to these two charities,” Ryerson said.
As the owner of Advanced Physical Therapy, Cindy Moore, a Run Now Relay runner, connects with the charities, especially the One Step Ahead Foundation.
“I was asked in October or November to do this and thought it was the craziest thing I have ever heard, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I think it is a great cause. It is going to be an adventure and everyone is going with an open mind,” Moore said.
Each runner will reach an average of an hour a day of running which is between five or six miles per day. The team consists of Ryerson, Cameron Fisher, Duane Goff, E.K. Slaughter, Miranda Fulbright, Merica Stum, Matt Jenne, Britney Cooke, Melissa Steve, Matt Carlson, Fred Garmon, Tim Spires, Robert Green, Johnny Clemons, Ben Williams, Chris Wilds, Cindy Moore, Corey Divel, Jamie Barks, Madison Torrence, Brandon Fulbright, Lawrence, Don Bennett, Chris Conine, Vanessa Torrence, Trae Cody and Dana Ayers.
“Being involved in this project and seeing the running community and this team has inspired me to start running and I want to be a part of actually running some of the miles of this relay,” Lawrence said.
There will be five runners represented in the Boston Marathon: Fisher, Carlson, Fred Garmon, Fulbright and Clemons.
“When the Boston bombing took place last year, it struck at the heart of me personally because I love to run. The Boston Marathon is the premier running event in America. They struck at something we love, something we do, our lifestyle. We decided we wanted to have a 5K to raise some money, and received close to $2,000. Now we are going to run a relay,” Cameron Fisher of Church of God International Offices said. “I am looking forward to the whole experience, meaning the interaction with everybody. I am looking forward to everything coming together in a good way.”
For more information or to donate to Run Now Relay go to runnowrelay.org or its Facebook page, Run Now Relay. There will be a pre-launch party hosted the Thursday before the Run Now Relay begins the journey from Tennessee to Boston.