The town of Cleveland, TN, may not be as big or famous as its namesake in Ohio, but it’s got plenty of heart—and energy.
On April 12, 30 runners from the so-called “City with Spirit” will embark on the Run Now Relay, an ambitious fundraising journey of roughly 1,000 miles. If all goes as planned, runners will arrive in Boston on Sunday, April 20, the day before the 2014 Boston Marathon.
Along the way, they’ll stop in Washington D.C. and New York City, sleep in hotel beds provided by Holiday Inn Express, and nosh on tasty food and beverages donated by Cooke’s Food Store, Coca-Cola, Powerade, and Panera Bread restaurants.
With full bellies and roofs over their heads, they can concentrate on the task at hand: raising $50,000 for the One Step Ahead Foundation, which is working to provide prosthetic legs to youngsters injured in last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, and Dream Big, a Boston nonprofit that uses sports to empower young girls.
Run Now Relay organizers Matt Ryerson of the United Way of Bradley County and Cameron Fisher of the Church of God International Offices announced the idea back in June, when the town of Cleveland again justified its nickname by playing host to a Fun Run for Boston.
The town was clearly touched by the tragic events of April 15, 2013, and Ryerson found the nature of the marathon attacks especially troubling.
“Cameron has run races,” Ryerson said of his co-organizer in an interview with the Cleveland Daily Banner. “His wife and kids go to these races, and they stand in the cold, in the rain, in the sun for two hours waiting for him to cross the finish line. Well, that is who these terrorists attacked. They didn’t attack the guys running the race.”
The Run Now Relay will involve at least one person running each hour, with the others using donated vans to ride ahead and lead the way. As Ryerson says, it’s a “logistical nightmare” that “attracts a certain socially crazy person,” but he can understand why 30 individuals of different ages and backgrounds signed up.
“I think it really comes down to the idea itself,” Ryerson told the Daily Banner. “Here is the opportunity to do an extraordinarily good thing, and have an incredible adventure at the same time.”
Click here for more information about the relay.