Man running from California to Delaware raising money for kids with cancer stops in Avon’s Nottingham Park
Peter Halper running over 3,000 miles to raise money for kids with cancer
Peter Halper is a man on a mission.
The Wisconsin resident stopped in Avon’s Nottingham Park on Tuesday as part of Emery’s Thunder Run, a 3,076-mile, four-month trek to raise funds for kids with cancer.
He started planning this run two years ago and was originally scheduled to start his run from California to Delaware in April. However, he postponed it to July to allow more information about COVID-19 to come out. He’s received a few questions along the way about running cross-country during a pandemic.
“It’s a good question, and I appreciate the question, but we’re not running despite a pandemic, I’m running because of it, more or less because the parents who are going through Neuroblastoma with their kids, they still got to deal with the same problems. Their issues don’t go away, so it just compounded everything for them, so it’s even more important that we continue on,” Halper said.
Halper and his team of rotating volunteers are coordinating the run to raise money for Emery’s Memory Foundation.
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“This run is a crazy stunt to help us find real solutions for the childhood cancer crisis,” the Emery’s Memory Foundation website says. “Funds from this run will go to Neuroblastoma research, support families in treatment and raise awareness about Neuroblastoma.”
Neuroblastoma is a form of cancer that starts in certain types of very primitive nerve cells found in an embryo or fetus, according to http://www.cancer.org.
Emery, the foundation’s namesake, is Halper’s sister’s granddaughter, who died at age 3 of Neuroblastoma Stage 4. Halper had never met his great-niece.
“The first time I met Emery was at her funeral,” Halper said. “When I was sitting in the pews, it hit me like a ton of rocks. How are these parents going to do what they are about to have to do? I decided that day that I was going to offer to run for them, for their foundation.”
Generosity from town to town
Halper’s four-month schedule includes running over a marathon a day for six days a week, taking Sundays off — that’s almost 115 marathons in four months. Upon arriving in Avon, he was a little over 1,000 miles into his run.
He will leave the valley and head east, over Vail Pass. Once in Kansas, he’ll take some time to spend some with family there. Halper has four children and is looking forward to seeing his wife.
“I’m not technically in the exact middle, but Denver, Colorado, feels like the middle and it’s kind of a big transition area to the plains so I feel like I’m in the middle,” he said.
However, he is planning to return either before leaving Denver or once arriving in Delaware — the Grizzly Creek Fire canceled his segment from Glenwood Springs to Gypsum.
“If it doesn’t open soon, I’ll go to Delaware, finish and I’ll buy a plane ticket back to Denver the day I get to Delaware, come back here and finish,” he said, adding he wants the run to be as continuous as possible to send a strong message to the parents and children dealing with Neuroblastoma. “We’re willing to suffer for them. We will finish all of it, even if we have to come back.”
Halper has been running for 11 years and has found a unique ability to run long distances.
“I hated running when I first started,” he said. “I’m not a professional runner. I’m not a sponsored runner. I’m a carpenter by trade. That’s what I do at home.”
Running across the western part of the country so far, Halper has noticed a surprising amount of generosity.
“It’s always been the people with the least offering the most,” he said. “I haven’t gone through a town where people haven’t been really generous and kind. I think that spirit is still really strong.”
He says Native American reservations have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There, you can see it on their faces and the way they carry themselves. Everything’s boarded up that you can tell wasn’t boarded up months ago,” he said.
The Emery’s Thunder Run has a goal of raising $200,000. As of mid-August, it has raised over $109,000. To donate, sponsor a mile or learn more, visit http://www.emorysmemoryfoundation.com.
“I have good days and bad days, like you might expect,” Halper said Tuesday, “but I’m feeling good today.”