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Team to end coast-to-coast run with OC celebration Saturday

(July 19, 2013) A team of runners raising money for sarcoma cancer research will end its 3,000-mile, coast-to-coast journey in Ocean City tomorrow.

Business owners, locals and visitors are invited to join the Miles 2 Give team on the last leg of its run alongside Mayor Rick Meehan, ending at the Atlantic Ocean at the arch on the Boardwalk at noon. Meehan will present the runners with a key to the city at 12:30 p.m. and a celebration will follow.

“It’s not just our run. It’s everybody’s run,” said runner and founder of Miles 2 Give Landon Cooper. He said the 157-day trip averaging around 28 miles a day parallels the fight with “the forgotten cancer.”

“A lot of people are afraid to do things that are so uncomfortable,” Cooper said, but that discomfort is a reminder of the fight cancer patients go through.

Cooper has been a runner since age 6, when he started playing soccer, but made his first run for a friend with sarcoma cancer on Valentine’s Day of 2010. Moving to Utah last November, he began to focus seven days a week on Miles 2 Give, from mapping routes to getting sponsors to buying an RV to support the cross-country trip.

Days before the run began on Feb. 14, tour director and runner Ryan Priest and videographer and runner John McKay joined Cooper’s on-foot team. As he explained it, “Three strangers walked into a bus and became soldiers for the sarcoma family.”

The team has since grown to 13 members, with an online director, media coordinator and others helping spread the word over social media as the team runs east.

The run started in Ocean Beach, San Francisco and Cooper wanted to end the trip near Washington, D.C. in July, Sarcoma Awareness Month. As he looked at coastal towns, making the run from Ocean Beach to Ocean City “was a no-brainer,” he said.

Each day, Miles 2 Give dedicates its run to a different person who had or has sarcoma, writing that person’s name on their faces and the ceiling of the RV.

The team rotates duties, with one running, one driving and one resting. That’s on top of making meals, finding sites to park the RV, coordinating hospital visits with sarcoma patients and visiting families, and keeping up with a slew of social media updates.

“It’s not just simply, ‘Oh, we’re going to get up today and run,’” Cooper said.

Some of the team’s biggest challenges have been scaling the Sierra Nevada and Rocky mountain ranges and living in a 240-square-foot RV on the side of the road. But meeting families across the country and raising close to $95,000 to date for sarcoma cancer research has made the trip worth it, he said.

“This is definitely my greater purpose,” Cooper said.

Miles 2 Give already has plans in the works for doing another cross-country fundraiser-run in a foreign country next year, he said.

Learn more about Miles 2 Give and donate to sarcoma cancer research at www.miles2give.org and follow Miles 2 Give on Facebook or at the Twitter handle @miles2give.

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