(July 26, 2013) Three runners raising money for sarcoma cancer research ended a 3,187-mile, coast-to-coast journey in Ocean City last Saturday.
The team raised close to its goal of $100,000 during its 157-day trip across the United States.
“The final day was beyond anything we could ever imagine,” Miles 2 Give founder and runner Landon Cooper said. Family, friends, cancer survivors and other supporters from across the country joined Cooper and fellow Miles 2 Give runners Ryan Priest and John McKay for the last leg of their trip as they crossed the Route 50 bridge, traveled under the Boardwalk arch and headed toward the Atlantic Ocean.
After celebrating with a dip in the ocean, the trio received a key to the city from Ocean City Council Secretary Mary Knight.
“It was so touching that it literally took my breath away,” said Jessica Waters, communications manager for the city. She said it was “truly an honor” for Ocean City to be the end-point for the tour.
Cooper began planning the tour last November and he, Priest and McKay officially started the run Feb. 14 from Ocean Beach, San Francisco. He wanted to end the trip near Washington, D.C. in July, Sarcoma Awareness Month. But after looking at maps, he said making an Ocean Beach-to-Ocean City run was a “no-brainer.”
Each day, the Miles 2 Give team traveled around 28 miles, dedicating their run to a different survivor or victim of sarcoma cancer by writing his or her name on their faces and the ceiling of the RV. The three runners alternated tasks, with one running, one driving and one resting.
They gathered steam as they headed east, adding a PR and media coordinator, online director and other team members to produce a slew of social media updates to raise awareness of “the forgotten cancer,” Cooper said.
Developing a photography book of their RV, Life Elevated, is just one of Cooper’s post-run projects. He also plans to produce a documentary of the 2013 tour and sell paintings through the Miles 2 Give Web site, which will continue to raise funds for the foundation.
He has several appearances planned to promote cancer awareness before settling in Santa Rosa, Fla.
“We have to keep the inspiration going,” he said.
Priest plans to finish his final semester at the University of Northern Arizona and McKay plans to teach now that their run is over.
“The three runners were full of enthusiasm and gratitude” Saturday, said Melanie Pursel, executive director of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce. “That they chose Ocean City, Maryland to end their journey was an absolute honor.”
Cooper said he has many takeaways from the trip, but the most important boiled down to the word “choice.”
“We all have choices of how we face things,” he said, “and the perspective that the boys and I have gained has certainly redefined how beautiful that moment is when we’re faced with a choice.”
He already has plans in the works for a 2014 Miles 2 Give run in another country, with many full- and part-time positions to become available on the team.
“This is only the beginning,” Cooper said. “Even though we’ve reached the Atlantic Ocean, we still have miles to go.”
Learn more about Miles 2 Give at www.miles2give.org and follow Miles 2 Give on Facebook or at the Twitter handle @miles2give to stay updated on the organization’s new projects and the 2014 fundraiser-run.