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Hug a THONner

November 20, 2012 - Erik Brown
Believe it or not, today is National Hug A Runner Day, at least that's the word on the streets in the running community. So I've been looking for a nice photograph of a runner, getting a hug after a run, for today's post. One thing was certain, that runner would not be me. For some reason, I never get a hug after a run. In fact, I've noticed that most people stay well out of hugging range from me after I've been running. Hmmm.

Anyway, I did come across a very nice photograph, compliments of an old friend who posted it on Facebook. The photo, which can be seen on the right side of this webpage, was taken near the finish line of the Philadelphia Half-Marathon on Sunday. The runner / huggee is Rita Gates, and the hugger is her Dad, Mike.

Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words, but this particular picture is also worth about $8,000 - if I have my facts straight - which is often in doubt.

Over the weekend, a group of nine Penn State students ran the Philadelphia Half-Marathon to raise money and awareness for children, and their families, suffering from pediatric cancer. They called themselves Team Hope, and named their fundraising effort, "Cents of Hope" to remind those battling cancer that they are not alone in their fight. Cents of Hope benefits the Four Diamonds Fund through the Penn State Dance MaraTHON.

Team Hope lined up at the very back of the field at the start line. Their fundraising concept was to pass as many runners as they could, over the 13.1 mile course, and seek sponsors who would pledge a penny for every runner they passed. Pretty clever if you ask me, and easy enough to tabulate from the published race results.

Rita and Steve Huber are the THON chairs of AKPsi, the co-ed business fraternity at Penn State. The Cents of Hope fundraiser was Steve's idea. "I wanted to give them a reason to believe, a sense of hope, if you will," said Huber.

Rita told me, by email, that "running 13.1 miles FTK (For The Kids) was an amazing experience". She was particularly pleased with the support from family, friends and co-worlers which she called "overwhelmingly positive". She added, "As far as THON goes, I can't imagine a day without it. I think about the Four Diamonds families every day who are enduring, or have endured, a child being diagnosed with cancer. It's a great feeling to know I'm doing something good with my time spent in college."

Last year THON raised nearly $10.7 million for children and families dealing with pediatric cancer.

Thanks for reading Against The Wind.

Postscript: There is also a link to a video of Team Hope on the right side of this webpage.

 
 
 

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Rita and Mike Gates at the finish line of the 2012 Philadelphia Half-Marathon

 
 
 
 

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