ANNA — Step after step. Mile after mile.
Michael Manger, of Anna, had a mission on Saturday. To run 46 miles to raise pediatric cancer awareness. Forty-six children are told each day that they have cancer. September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month.
Manger ran each mile for a child who was diagnosed with cancer. At each mile, a ribbon marker with the child’s photo was displayed, reminding Manger of his goal.
At mile marker 38, Kaden Michaelis, 8, and his family were waiting for Manger to run by them. Kaden was diagnosed with neuroblastoma stage 4 cancer when he was 3 1/2 years old.
“Neuroblastoma is a solid tumorous cancer,” said his mom, Julie. “The tumor was taken out and he has undergone chemotherapy, radiation and two stem cell replacements.”
For the Michaelis family, the run gave them the opportunity to thank Manger for his support of raising the awareness of pediatric cancer.
“We just want to root him on and show our support,” said Julie. The family had met Manger two years ago in Toledo during a Search for a Cure walk.
“This is amazing,” said Kaden’s dad Brian. “Here he is running for all the families involved with cancer.”
Brian said a family whose child is diagnosed with cancer immediately begins their fight against the disease.
“We have no time to advocate for it (pediatric cancer awareness),” said Brian. “We’re just trying to live normal lives.”
Signs and ribbons of each of the kids he was running for greeted Manger as he ran through the countryside.
“Seeing those kids pictures along the road really kept me going,” Manger said.
His run began at 6:30 a.m. at the American Legion in Anna. He crossed the finish line around 7:30 p.m. at the Legion, where friends and family greeted a tired runner.
Manger said he’d do it all over again. Besides some swelling on his feet and ankles, he is feeling great, he said Tuesday afternoon.
About halfway through the run, five miles away from his break point, the humidity started to get to him and he really hit a wall.
“I was trying to get water in me and trying to eat some peanut butter sandwiches, but my mouth was so dry,” he said. “My legs wanted to quit.”
It was around this time that a Reds Baseball Game was about to begin over the radio and Manger announced, “I’m not listening to no ball game.”
Manger said he doesn’t know if his son-in-law heard this request or not, but not too long after he switched the radio to a christian radio station. The song that came on right away was called, “Don’t Give Up”.
“He cranked it (the volume) all the way up and I immediately started feeling better. … almost peaceful,” he said.
He started taking off in a faster walk and pushed through.
“It just felt like God gave me that energy to make it to that first stop,” Manger said.
His break was supposed to last an hour, but after 30 minutes he was ready to get back out there.
There were groups of people waiting to cheer him on all along the route. Manger said they were there right at the times he needed the support to push on.
He said he had to walk about the last 14 miles. It felt like he was walking on glass; he was barely walking.
As he came to within a quarter mile of the finish, the road was lined with friends and family cheering him on. As the fire truck that was escorting him reached the legion, it sounded its siren and gave him the last little push to get him to run through the finish line.
A bunch of people joined him for sections of the run. His six-year-old grandson was with him for about eight miles. Todd Wagner, of Minster, ran the entire 46 miles with Manger.
“If it wasn’t for him, I would have quit at that halfway point,” Manger said.
Fire trucks from Anna, Botkins, Van Buren Township and Fort Loramie all escorted him on his route, along with Sidney Police Department and Shelby and Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office cruisers.
Manger isn’t sure if he’s going to do the 46 mile run again next year, but he is for certain putting together a 5K fun run/walk in Botkins for next September.
“I am so thankful and so overwhelmed by the support. My Facebook page has been bombarded with photos from the event,” he said.
“I’m just one guy from one small community doing something that is helping people all over the county. It would be amazing if someone where to see this and start doing it somewhere else too,” Manger said.
About 250 to 300 people showed up at the event throughout the day. The final amounts of money raised aren’t completely totalled yet, but Manger thinks the event raised close to $5,000. This year he has raised close to $11,000 all together.
Every penny of the money raised will go to CureSearch to find better treatments and a cure for childhood cancer. To donate visit www.curesearch.org.
Reach Melanie Speicher at 937-538-4822 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Alexandra Newman at 937-538-4825 or email@example.com. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.