OCEAN CITY – The Miles 2 Give team is less than a month out of reaching the finish line in Ocean City after running across country all in the name of Sarcoma Cancer.
When The Dispatch first spoke with Landon Cooper, he was preparing to run over 3,000 miles across the United States, starting in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Bridge to end in Ocean City under the archway at North Division Street on the Boardwalk.
Cooper, 34, is the founder of Miles 2 Give (M2G). The M2G tour, “Pursuit to Give & Inspire”, will donate funding raised to Sarcoma Foundation of America to create the “Ashley Davis Grant.”
On Nov. 28, 2009, Cooper’s good friend, Ashley Davis, was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma Cancer. Through many promising ups and downs, she eventually lost her battle and died on April 6, 2011 at the age of 23.
“She was just so spirited, so vivacious, so alive, and just had that aura about her that the world was going to change wherever she was,” Cooper said in December.
The goal is to raise a minimum of $100,000 for Sarcoma Cancer research in partnership with Sarcoma Foundation of America, who will distribution all the funding raised as a 501c3 organization. Every $55,000 creates a new research grant. The mission to run across the country was designed to inspire thousands along the way, while raising money for Sarcoma Cancer Research.
M2G’s tour kicked off on Feb. 14 and is scheduled to reach Ocean City on July 20. As of last Wednesday afternoon, the team had reached just west of Columbus, Ohio, getting ready to visit Columbus Children’s Hospital. They had about 2,500 miles down with 600 plus miles to go.
“Since we have left, we have crossed Sonoma Napa Valley and the loneliest highway in America in Nevada, Highway 50, and we trekked over the Rockies,” Cooper said. “We ran along Lake Michigan and Chicago with about 30 to 40 friends of ours, and now we are in the hot flat land of Kansas, Nebraska and Ohio.”
Along the way, the M2G team is visiting schools, hospitals, hosting events/fundraisers and meeting with town locals to raise awareness.
“The whole tour we have been stopping and making hospital visits along the way, meeting with survivors, having dinner with survivors and being invited to stay at survivors homes, so it has definitely been a bringing everyone together kind of tour, whether it is survivors, those who are battling or those who have lost someone. That is why I call it the ‘Pursuit to Give & Inspire.’ I wanted to meet everyone along the way in the heart of America.”
The M2G team has grown to include three runners while traveling in a Winnebago RV. Cooper began running alone until Tour Director Ryan Priest and Videographer John McKay joined him. They run anywhere from a marathon up to 40 miles every day.
“In the beginning of the tour, I wanted to highlight how torturous it is for someone to go at it by themselves. That is the parallel universe of somebody who goes through cancer. A lot of times when they don’t want to fight or carry on their family and friends are there to fight for them,” Cooper said. “In those first few states, I was beat up. I had headaches for weeks, hip splinters, altitude problems, just a lot going on. The slogan of M2G is ‘if we have miles to go, we have miles to give’, and in Utah the M2G revolution was born to show everyone that on those down days when you don’t want to fight, we have to lean on others.”
As M2G members continues on, they meet more and more of those who have been affected by Sarcoma Cancer. Every day they run on tour they dedicate that day to somebody who has been lost, battling or has survived Sarcoma Cancer, and there have been some days dedicated to over a handful of people.
“A lot of people we run for are dedicated to people in different parts of the country, so it is very rare we get to meet them,” Cooper said. “As we keep moving east the possibility to meet them is becoming more possible, and that helps us push through. We have a M2G army around us, and they are right there with us.”
With the Sarcoma Foundation of America based in Maryland, Cooper’s goal is to land in Maryland in July since the month is Sarcoma Awareness Month. So far M2G has been able to raise almost $85,000 and is still shooting to raise $15,000 more.
“Our tour ends on the beautiful beach of Ocean City, MD., on Saturday, July 20. On that day we will be starting 8 miles out jogging in and will be ending right under the archway at 12 p.m. hopefully being accompanied by Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and his family and friends. We are very honored and looking forward to bringing this final chapter of the tour to the East Coast of Ocean City, MD,” Cooper said.
Upon arrival, M2G will be presented a key to the city. A meet and greet with the team will take place on North Division St. from noon-3 p.m. Ocean City locals have caught wind of the team’s arrival and a celebration is in the works with final plans to come.
For more information or to support the cause visit Miles 2 Give website, www.miles2give.org, where donations can be made, or visit them on Facebook and Twitter.