ANNA– It’s all for the kids; it’s all for the awareness.
That’s what the man running 46 miles in September said about why he is running.
Michael Manger, 54, will be running 46 miles on September 5, his birthday, to raise awareness and $50,000 for childhood cancer.
He has been working and trying to raise awareness since 2011. In September 2014, he decided he had to do something different to get awareness out and get money raised.
“I told my wife, I’m tired, I’m overweight, I can’t go anymore. So I told her I was going to go out and start walking, start loosing weight and watching what I eat,” Manger said.
“So I had some me-time with God. I said Lord what can I do for 2015 that would be extreme, that I could do to get the awareness out for these kids and raise the funds that they need?” he said.
Manger said God gave him the numbers 46 and 7 and he recognized them; 46 children are diagnosed every day with cancer and 7 die every day.
“I was stuck there. I kept walking and started to lose a little bit of weight,” he said. He then got the idea that maybe he should try running again. He hasn’t ran since 2004 because he has had three knee surgeries.
So about two weeks later he started a fast walk and God told him to run for the children. He thought he could run seven miles, since the doctors had told him he would never run again, but then God said he should run 46.
Manger thought, there was just no way, but he said God told him he’d take care of him.
“So I went home, told the wife, and she said, are you crazy? I said, I’m going to try,” he said.
He started jogging and got himself a trainer. During the winter months he lifted weights and used an elliptical machine a little bit, and by the time spring came around, he had dropped 50 pounds.
So he started running and was really training hard, when the first of several injuries occurred.
“I ended up having blood clots in my left leg. Luckily they were superficial and that took me off of two weeks of running,” Manger said.
He then got bursitis in his left hip at the beginning of May and then got diagnosed with a partial town right calf towards the end of May.
“I was about ready to give up. I thought well maybe it’s my age … but then God put it on my heart that this pain and the set backs you’re going through are nothing compared to what these children are going through,” he said.
“So we decided to make an event out of it. I got on Facebook and started telling people what I was doing,” Manger said.
He then decided he needed inspiration and encouragement during his run, so he gathered the names and pictures of 46 children, from around the world, to put at each mile marker.
He is also going to wear all the rubber bracelets he has collected with children’s names on it and listen to a few of the children’s favorite songs while he runs. He’ll have a GPS tracking chip so people can follow along from wherever they are located.
“It’s not about what I’m doing. It’s not about me. I’m not looking for the praise or the glory,” Manger said.
People are blind to these kids with childhood cancer, he said. He just hopes that him doing this will blow up and bring awareness to these children and the money and funds they really need.
“Even is we only make a dollar, it’s a dollar more than what these kids have,” Manger said.
Manger’s journey started with a Facebook comment back in the summer of 2011. He was part of a motorcycle ministry and members of that group knew other cyclists in Knoxville, Tennessee, who were organizing a benefit for an 11-year-old with cancer.
The girl needed regular, massive blood transfusions. After talking to the girls mother on Facebook, he decided to transfer some of the credits he’d collected for blood donations here.
He couldn’t though because the local blood banks no longer make transfers, but he couldn’t stop thinking about little Katelyn Norman of LaFollette, Tennessee. He wanted to do something for her family, but he had no idea what to do.
“God put it on my heart, ‘You have to go down there,’” he said. So he did. With a friend, he motorcycled through 28-degree winter weather for nine hours to meet Katelyn.
“She never complained one bit,” he said. “She always had a smile on her face.”
Katelyn died on Good Friday in 2013. Michael questioned in his prayers why he had come to know her and decided it was the catalyst to become an advocate for childhood cancer awareness.
He retired the bike he met Katelyn on and dedicated it to the kids. He takes it to events around the country to raise awareness. Just a couple weeks ago he took a trip on his bike to Oklahoma for a benefit there.
If he’s not working his day job at Sollman Electric in Sidney, he is training for his big run, or he is raising awareness in any way he can come up with.
His family is helping him out along the way. His son-in-law is going to be following him in a four-wheeler with supplies on it during the run, and his daughter is planning the event part at the American Legion Post in Anna.
His run will start at 6:30 a.m. on September 5 and the route will take him south on County Road 25A, west on Russell Road then will zig-zag back north then he’ll make his way back over to 25A and come south through Botkins and back to the American Legion.
At 4 p.m. there will be an auction, a 50/50 raffle, music, food and a cash bar. All the money raised, excluding the money from the bar which the legion will get to keep for hosting the event, will go to CureSearch to find better treatments and a cure for cancer.
He said they’re not asking for help money-wise, although that would be great too, they’re just asking for people to come in and join them and to just be a voice for these children and get awareness out.
His youngest son is going to run with him for the first five miles and his six-year-old grandson is really excited to join him on part of the run. Just last week Manger got an offer from Todd Wagner, of Minster, to run the whole 46 miles with him. Manger is encouraging anyone who wants to come out and walk or run with him to do so.
He’s hoping to finish in 10 hours, but he’s giving himself 12. He said even if this race puts him in the hospital, he knows he will heal and it’s nothing compared to what these kids go through.
He will be checked about halfway through the run by paramedics to make sure he can finish, he said he’ll listen to his body, and stop if he needs to.
“It’s going to be an emotional run… my birthday gift to myself is when I hit that last mile,” Manger said. Mile 46 is dedicated to Katelyn because she started all of it and he’s going to finish for her.
He said he’s had a lot of negativity and people tell him to quit, but it’s the kids that really keep him going.
“I don’t really have to explain why, because I made a promise to Katelyn when I put my hand on her casket to say my farewell to her. I told her I’d do anything in my power, even if it takes to the point I go bankrupt, to get this story out and to get help for these kids, that’s what I’m going to do and a lot of people just don’t understand why I made such a promise to a child,” Manger said.
He has lived in the area all his life and all his family is around here. He hopes to eventually set up an annual 5K in Botkins in September because it is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Information about his run and how to donate can be found on the events Facebook page Running for the 46. If you’d like to be a sponsor or donate an item, you can contact Ashley Holthaus at 937-622-9540.
Reach this writer at 937-538-4825; follow on Twitter @SDNAlexandraN