BIG RUN: Cancer Survivors’ 4,000 Mile Run

A group of unique athletes is taking on the challenge of a lifetime, completing a 4,000 mile run across America.

It’s all to help raise money and awareness for cancer research and programs.

Running a marathon would be a challenge for anyone, but for those who have battled something bigger, it’s just one more obstacle to overcome.

“If it`s a mental game that has to be beat cancer survivors are people who are ideally situated to do that,” says Executive Director of Above and Beyond Cancer Charlie Whittmack.

Whittmack helped organize the Million Dollar Marathon Team, which represents 160 cancer survivors from 24 states.

The team is running from Washington State to Washington D.C.

Michelle Flattery, of Ames, has been cancer free for three years and says the run helps her heal.

“I want to get rid of cancer in my life so it`s my way to say goodbye and now I’m going to go forward and help everybody else who is going through it,” says Flattery.

Also running is Dotty Meltesen, a cancer survivor from Grimes.

Dotty says just six months ago she couldn’t even run a mile, today she’s part of a team completing a full marathon.

“I know so many people with cancer that`s what I have on my arms, all the amazing women in my support group who are battling cancer and my friends my family and everyone who has to deal with this horrible disease,” says Meltesen.

Organizers say the journey is also about honoring those affected by the disease.

“On this event we have a baton and the baton is filled with little scripts of fabric that we call prayer flags.  People that we meet along the way are inscribing on each prayer flag the name of someone whose life has been touched by cancer, then we put the prayer flag in the baton and carry it with us across the country,” says Whittmack.

The stop in Des Moines marks the half-way point, with over 2,000 miles completed.

“It is the easiest marathon to run because you know you`re running for people, it`s the best race in my life,” says Flattery.

You can join the team for a one mile run Wednesday morning.

Cancer survivors, supporters and the public are invited to walk from the Pappajohn Education Center to the State Capitol.

The team hopes to raise another 5-hundred thousand dollars to reach its ambitious one million dollar goal.

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