INDIANOLA, Iowa - Scott Mills says this all started "two RAGBRAI's ago." He was with his brother-in-law, taking a beer break at Mullet's in Des Moines, when he decided he wanted to run across the state of Iowa.
He was also going through chemotherapy at the time.
"My mantra has always been to be positive, to pay it forward," he said.
A three-time cancer survivor, Mills is now paying it forward by "running it forward." The Run It Forward campaign, as he's calling it, started last Saturday, August 29 in Muscatine. In 10 days, he's going to get across the entire state - ending in Council Bluffs on Labor Day - all while saying "thank you" to those supporting him and raising funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to help families of children battling cancer.
"You know, it's okay for me, like an old guy, to have [cancer,] but I can't imagine my three kids having it," he said. "And St. Jude does such a great job for families of kids who have it."
It's a tough mission: 285 miles in 10 days - the equivalence of 10 marathons in 10 days. With his wife, Carrie, trailing him from behind the wheel of her car, traveling ahead to get refreshments for him when needed, as well as a one-man support crew on a loaded bike, Mills is making great progress as of Wednesday. Arriving at Indianola Wednesday afternoon, Mills is now over halfway through, covering 151 miles. He starts his runs every day between 5 and 6:30 a.m. in an attempt to beat the heat, and takes frequent breaks in the shade.
When asked how his body is handling the demands of a marathon a day, Mills says he's actually getting stronger each day he runs. Though he seems unstoppable right now, one blessing he claims his battle with cancer has given him was the chance to "slow down" in life.
"It makes me sound like the worst person in the world to say this, but I wish everybody could have cancer because it would slow everybody down, and focus on what's important in life, and to be positive," he said. "To pay it forward. You know, you don't have to do outreach across the ocean; you can do outreach across the street."
Mills will finish his campaign on Labor Day in Council Bluffs. Between now and then, you can catch him along Highway 92 through Winterset, Greenfield, Atlantic, and Oakland. He welcomes anyone who would like to ride or run beside him.