Running a half or a full marathon is something many people have in the back of their minds as an item to cross off of their bucket lists. Imagine running both races for a total of 39.3 miles in just one weekend. One local man has vowed to complete this challenge to help raise awareness and funds for blood cancer research.
Richard Van Egtern, 26 of Oakfield, Wis., signed up to participate in the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World on Jan. 10 and 11, 2015 to raise funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). This event, held annually at the park, serves up a tough challenge in one of the happiest places on earth, but for Van Egtern, it’s more than a race.
“A family friend,” Richard said “Bernadett Henke, was actually my inspiration as an honored hero for the race. I was already sold on the event because I wanted to give back in an extraordinary way.”
Henke, was diagnosed, treated and entered remission for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, not once but twice. It is Van Egtern’s belief, along with so many others, that cancer should be a disease of the past.
“She is doing great!” Richard said “She has been cancer free for quite some time. She’s living life in the Arizona heat and just welcomed a a new granddaughter.”
Van Egtern is a 2006 graduate of Oakfield High who then earned a degree in public relations from UW-O.
“After college, I worked for Fond du Lac Festivals as an event coordinator for Walleye Weekend and Taste of Fond du Lac. I then moved to Phoenix to work for LLS as a campaign specialist. I recently moved back to Oakfield to help bring awareness, and pursue a masters degree in nutrition.”
Van Egtern’s interest in running has been ongoing for quite some time.
“I used to be very overweight,” he said “and through my journey I have lost over 110 lbs. One of the ways I accomplished that was through running. I got very interested in the fitness community. While living in Arizona I helped people fundraise and train for half and full marathons. I’ve been leisurely running for over five years and in the last couple years haven gotten into racing.”
The Goofy Challenge is his first race for a cause.
“Although I have participated in other races including Festival Foods’ Turkey Trot and the Brewer’s Mini Marathon. I’ve also been the lead staff person for a group of participants at the San Diego Rock n Roll race in California.”
The Goofy Challenge is one of many events offered through Team In Training, a campaign under LLS. Participants who sign up for events make it their mission to raise funds on behalf of those who are fighting the overwhelmingly tough battle with various types of blood cancers. Van Egtern has taken on a fundraising commitment of raising $3,900 and is half way toward achieving his goal.
“I was drawn to the Goofy because I wanted to do a race for LLS and Team In Training, but I didn’t want to do just one race. I knew when I signed up for an event it would be a couple races. Originally, I was signing up for the Run Local Double Down in Phoenix, but two friends convinced me to sign up for Goofy and I was sold. I knew Goofy was the perfect fit because where better than the “Happiest Place on Earth” to run a race to help end cancer?”
Team In Training has been fundraising through endurance sports for more than 26 years and has helped LLS raise more than $1 billion for cancer research. Interested in signing up for an event? Head over to www.teamintraining.org to learn more.
“The amazing thing about Team In Training events,” Van Egtern said “is that part of your fundraising goal covers an inspiration dinner, race transportation and a hotel stay. Thankfully for Southwest points, I won’t have to pay for my airline ticket. Those things, combined makes signing up for an event that much more rewarding and worth the personal costs. Yes, I do have a team. It’s the Team In Training National Flex Team and includes participants from all over the country. With my team comes a staff member for fundraising advice, a training program (and coach) and a mission mentor, someone who reminds us that even though the miles are tough, these dollars are making treatments more affordable for patients.”
Any and all are encouraged to participate.
“There are so many incredible events for LLS around the country,” Van Egtern concluded “including the iconic Chicago Marathon, the New York Marathon and Nike Women’s Half Marathon. Every dollar counts. I’m challenging myself to run a half marathon and a full marathon in one weekend, but I’m also challenging everyone else to donate. These dollars are impacting life-saving treatments, financial aid programs and assistance to people who might not be able to afford care.”
Donating is easy, and 100% tax deductible. Log on to www.teamintraining.org/donate and search Richard Van Egtern or send a check made out to LLS to N3215 CTY RD B, Oakfield, WI 53065.