Running for cancer | CraigDailyPress.com

Running for cancer

61-year-old Craig resident to compete in Florida marathon

John Vandelinder

— Thomas Williams was a 27-year-old recreational runner when he competed in a marathon more than three decades ago in Phoenix.

His legs burned, he gasped for air and he battled excruciating stomach cramps.

He fought on and drove toward the finish line. Then the unthinkable happened.

A 60-year-old runner passed him.

If that wasn’t enough embarrassment, there was more to come.

“He asked me, ‘What’s the problem, sonny?’ as he ran by me,” Williams said. “I couldn’t believe I got passed by someone my grandfather’s age.”

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Now the roles have changed. Williams is 61 years old, and he’s the one passing the young bucks in marathons.

“It makes me feel good passing younger guys,” he said. “I think of the Phoenix race every time I do it.”

Williams is heading to compete in a marathon – a 26.2-mile run – in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., on Feb. 17.

He’s going to compete, but he’s not out to beat other runners this time around.

He’s running to beat breast cancer.

Williams is collecting donations, or sponsors, to raise money for the event. Every cent he raises will be turned over to the Donna Hicken Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to funding the needs of underserved women with breast cancer.

The foundation has pledged to donate the majority of the funds to the Mayo Clinic, an internationally renowned medical practice based in Rochester, Minn., with hospital facilities and a medical school, for laboratory research and clinical trials to help eradicate breast cancer.

To date, Williams has raised almost $1,000 toward his overall $5,000 goal.

“I’ve never ran for anything besides myself,” Williams said. “I was part of a walk-a-thon in Baggs, Wyo., last year that raised $12,000 toward cancer.

“I thought it would be a great idea if I could do something personally to help.”

So Williams will make the nearly 2,000-mile trip to Florida to run another 26.2 for charity.

He’s looking forward to the race, the weather and making new friends.

“Most of the time I end up talking to other runners along the way,” he said. “I’ve traded life stories with so many different people, it makes it a really great time.”

When Williams filled out the necessary paperwork to receive his donation forms, he also received a pink breast cancer wish band he proudly wears on his right wrist.

“I put this on,” he said pointing to the band, “and it’s not coming off until I finish the race.”

John Vandelinder can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com

To help

If you want to donate, make checks payable to:

The Donna Hicken Foundation

The money can be contributed directly to an account in the First National Bank of Colorado. Proceeds fund women’s breast cancer research.