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Running to Save Lives

Thousands of people ran the Chicago marathon, but not everyone did it to help save 30 million people.

Alyssa Pitts, 19, of Chicago, IL did. She woke up on the morning of October 9 thinking, “Today I will make a difference.” She was running the  26.2 mile race for a cause close to her heart – the fight against liver disease.

Attracting 45,000 registered participants, the annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon drew spectators and runners from around the world. The race spanned from as far north as Lake Shore Dr. and Addison, to Sox 35th and Michigan Ave.

Many participants ran to prove something to themselves. But many raced on behalf of  several charities including American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and Best Buddies Illinois.

Pitts was one of 50 runners who used the race to raise funds for the American Liver Foundation, an organization that promotes education, support, and research for the prevention, treatment, and cure of liver disease, which currently affects 30 million people. “I ran for my high school biology teacher, Joan Klonowski, who recently passed away from liver cancer,” Pitts tearfully explains. “She inspired me to become a biology major, and this was my tribute to her.”

This was Pitts’ first marathon ever. “I was proud of myself. When I started getting tired and doubting myself I thought about everyone who supported me, including my family, my friends, and Ms. Klonowski.”

Pitts raised $1050, which was $50 over her original goal. Runners continue fundraising beyond the race until November 1. As of October 24, the American Liver Foundation raised a total of $52,000 from runner’s fundraising alone. At least 82 cents of every dollar from the proceeds of the American Liver Foundation go towards education, research, and treatment of liver disease.

Pre-race day, the American Liver Foundation prepared runners for the race through fun runs, free food, group meetings, and even a team coach. Post-race, they had tents set up in Charity Village providing food and water to participants and their friends and families, like many other charities. In addition to this, the American Liver Foundation provided massages from a licensed masseuse for runners and stuffed liver toys in the shape of a liver for their families.

Joe Davis, Event Manager for the Great Lakes Division of the American Liver Foundation, said, “Not only is it quite an accomplishment to run 26.2 miles, but knowing that you did it for the 30 million people currently living in the US that are affected by liver disease is an even better feeling.”

Pitts plans to run many more marathons now that she has completed her first one. More importantly, it gives her a chance to  make a difference for 30 million people.


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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.