Wor­thy cause

Man runs 88.5 kilo­me­tres to raise money for Alzheimer So­ci­ety

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY BUR­TON K. JANES bur­tonj@nfld.net

A young man ran all the way from his home in Bay Roberts to St. John’s - all 88.5 kilo­me­tres. He went the dis­tance to help raise funds for the Alzheimer So­ci­ety.

Two days af­ter com­plet­ing his run from Bay Roberts to St. John’s, Rus­sell Cooper made an un­sched­uled visit to his doc­tor.

“I’m on my way to get my toe­nail re­moved, be­cause there’s a big blis­ter on my toe,” the 20year-old said.

“ Yeah, there’s pain. To tell the truth, I re­ally can’t walk. But it was worth it,” he added.

In April, the Bay Roberts res­i­dent de­cided he wanted to do some­thing to raise money for the Alzheimer So­ci­ety of New­found­land and Labrador.

“ The main rea­son was my grand­mother. She’s had (Alzheimer’s dis­ease) for years now,” Cooper ex­plained.

He de­cided to run from Bay Roberts to the St. John’s of­fice of the Alzheimer So­ci­ety. The dis­tance is 88.5 kilo­me­tres. Leav­ing his home on Wa­ter Street at 8: 30 p.m. Fri­day, Aug., 27, Cooper reached his des­ti­na­tion - 685 Wa­ter Street in St. John’s - at 12:30 p.m. the next day.

“Long” and “ hard” are the words he used to sum­ma­rize his ex­pe­ri­ence.

“ But I was able to keep up the pace,” he added, de­ter­mi­na­tion show­ing in his voice.

Cooper’s par­ents, Sharon and Neil Cooper, ac­com­pa­nied their son in a ve­hi­cle, pass­ing him en­ergy food and wa­ter ev­ery mile.

One of the most dif­fi­cult sec­tions for the run­ner was a sec­tion of the TCH near the St. John’s Rod and Gun Club, lo­cated near Holy­rood ap­prox­i­mately 45 kilo­me­tres west of the cap­i­tal city.

“ That was re­ally hard. My girl­friend, Vic­to­ria, of­fered to walk up the hill with me,” Cooper said.

Af­ter that, he made greater progress than at first.

This was his first at­tempt at any­thing so ex­treme. He man­aged five kilo­me­tres once, but not be­cause he liked it.

The chal­lenge Cooper set for him­self re­quired in­tense train­ing. A colum­nist for Ul­trarunnning mag­a­zine vol­un­teered to de­sign a strict reg­i­men for him to fol­low. Over the next five months, he trained re­lent­lessly.

The train­ing paid off, de­spite the mo­ments when Cooper won­dered if he would reach his goal.

“ The last few miles were re­ally hard. Around the Mount Pearl area, the sun started com­ing out. It was re­ally hot and I fig­ured I had far­ther to go than I fig­ured,” he said.

Cooper’s sis­ter, Sa­man­tha, ran ahead and clocked off the ac­tual dis­tance.

“I thought it was 10 miles, but it was 10 kilo­me­tres. That re­ally helped,” Cooper said.

In ad­di­tion to Cooper’s fam­ily and girl­friend, oth­ers drove along with him for the last few kilo­me­tres, while mo­torists stopped to en­cour­age him.

At the Alzheimer So­ci­ety’s of­fice, a group of sup­port­ers awaited Cooper.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it with­out the sup­port I sensed,” he ac­knowl­edged.

Cooper’s run raised $1,600 to sup­port the pro­grams and ser­vices of the Alzheimer So­ci­ety.

“ We think it was a very gen­er­ous and very worth­while jour­ney for Rus­sell,” said Shirley Lu­cas, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. “It helped us tremen­dously in rais­ing our pro­file in the com­mu­nity, so in­di­vid­u­als who need sup­port know where to turn ... We com­mend him on his sig­nif­i­cant ef­forts and con­grat­u­late him on a job well done and one that would make his grand­mother proud.”

Rus­sell Cooper quench­ing his thirst with wa­ter supplied by his par­ents, Sharon and Neil Cooper.

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Vic­to­ria Reid

Rus­sell Cooper run­ning be­hind the fam­ily van as he nears the end of his 88.5-kilo­me­tre run just out­side St. John’s.

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