The following is from a LIVESTRONG grassroots fundraiser and runner, Ethan Bennett. Ethan is running from New York to San Francisco in honor of his mother who passed away from cancer when he was 17. Check out his progress and updates from the road on Facebook and his website www.runtofight.com. We salute Ethan and all of those that donate to his efforts. Help us cheer him on in the comments section.
After losing my mother, Susan, to cancer at 17, I had a burning desire to dedicate my life to putting a stop to the deadly disease. The feeling of losing a loved one was the most horrific feeling I’ve ever experienced and has left a tattoo of hate for cancer on my heart. While my mother was fighting her battle, I found running to be an antidote for my grief. It was a way to reflect and feel free from the worry and stress. As time passed, I began to enjoy my daily runs so much that I strove to become better, completing several marathons. I vowed to find a way to use my running ability to fight against cancer. I couldn’t stand to see another child lay in a hospital bed not knowing if he or she will celebrate their next birthday, or hear about another mother who passed away before her children without trying to make a difference in some way.
After years of dedication, I decided to run across America for those affected by cancer in any way, shape, or form, so that one day we will beat this disease and live our life on our terms, not cancers. While still in the early stages of planning the run my brother, Danny, was diagnosed with testicular cancer. The support LIVESTRONG showed during his battle cemented my commitment to making LIVESTRONG my charity of choice to help fight cancer. So, I worked hard planning, saving, recruiting sponsors, and even sold my Jeep to fund this grandiose vision I had, determined to make it become an achieved reality with a fundraising goal of $500,000. I was itching to get out on our nation’s roads to battle the elements and test myself to the limits, knowing this transcontinental had potential for injury, as well as enlightenment and personal revelations. April 21, I set foot off the east coast in NYC and I am now 1/3 of the way across America. I am fueled to keep marching on by stories I hear from almost every person I come in contact with about their own personal journey with cancer. Each story touches my heart and lengthens my stride. It is for them that I wake up every day and strap on my shoes.
The numbers are exhausting when looking at the big picture of 3,289 miles in 97 days, but I find it easier to take one day, one step at a time, for every mile is an accomplishment in itself. There is nothing easy about this endeavor of running an ultra marathon a day, pushing through tendinitis, blisters, missing toenails, shin splints, mental roller coasters and getting chased after by dogs! But, my struggles have humbled me and truly put into perspective the reality of how passionate I am about helping others. I know if I remain healthy enough to crawl, I am equipped with enough determination to reach the California coast for no matter how grueling it gets, I feel blessed to have this opportunity to honor those stronger than me who are fighting for their lives. I will continue to put one foot in front of the other and keep my eyes on the west coast, planning to finish July 28 in time to run the San Francisco Marathon. My most sincere thanks to all who have shown support to The Run To Fight. I will never forget those who cross my path and count my blessings for all the acts of kindness. 2,200 miles remaining, go LIVESTRONG, go Run To Fight!