New York, NY (Vocus) April 9, 2010
Internationally-known endurance athlete Lisa Smith Batchen will attempt to become the first athlete to run 50 miles in each of the 50 states in two months in an effort to raise money and awareness for orphans throughout the world. The event, Running Hope Through America, began in N.J. on April 19 and will finish in Wyoming on June 19th, passing through major cities and small towns along the way.
For city and route details, visit http://www.runhope.com. Runners and non-runners alike can join Smith Batchen on most of her runs and do not have to complete the run to participate. People of all ages and fitness levels are encouraged to come out and run as much or as little as they can. Most routes are constructed in such a way that people can join it at any time. Smith Batchen will start each run at about 5:30 a.m. and is expected to finish around 6 p.m.
The project’s goal is to raise $1,000,000 for orphaned children in Haiti, Africa, Indonesia, South America and the United States. To this end, Running Hope Through America has partnered with AIDS Orphans Rising, the Caring House Project and The Orphan Foundation of America (OFA).
"There are orphans in all of our communities, in every state, across our great country and around the world," said Smith Batchen. "An orphan is anyone who has lost the love of a birth parent through death, abandonment, neglect or abuse. I am running to bring hope and attention to them and to the possibilities that exist for them if we work together to help them live healthy, productive and meaningful lives. Each organization I am running for and everyone who supports me along the way plays such a key role in shaping and improving their lives.”
Running Hope through America is the latest challenge for Smith Batchen, one of the country’s top endurance athletes and coaches. Smith Batchen is the only American to take the top prize for the women's division at the “Marathon des Sables,” a 150 mile race through the Sahara. She also has won the Badwater Ultramarathon twice, and is one of the only women to ever have completed the "Badwater Double," also known as the "Death Valley 300" because of its location and distance. In 2010, she will be the first woman to complete 10 Badwater Ultramarathons. She has also been featured in numerous documentaries, books, and articles.
Smith Batchen is also the founder of the Dreamchaser Foundation, which will distribute proceeds from the run to the three benefitting organizations. Established in 2008, the foundation encourages amateur and professional athletes alike to use their passion for sports for charitable ends. To date, Smith Batchen has raised more than $4.5 million for charity. She was personally invited to meet Pope John Paul II as thanks for the work she has done to support AIDS Orphans Rising.
Accompanying Smith-Batchen on the run will be a small support crew including her good friend and past running partner, Sister Mary Beth Lloyd, 62, a member of the Order of the Religious Teachers Filippini, which is dedicated to education. Members of this Order are not allowed to dress in clothes other than a habit. Therefore, Sister Mary Beth will do as she has always done—accompany Smith-Batchen in her full habit: a black wool tunic over a white shirt and underskirt, black headpiece and a black woolen belt. And sneakers. Sister Mary Beth will run part of the way, walk other parts of it and be there supporting Smith Batchen every step along the way in each of the 50 states.
Those interested in donating to the cause, joining Smith Batchen in their state or just learning more, are encouraged to visit http://www.runhope.com and to also look for Running Hope to America on Facebook.
Editorial Note: The Web site, http://www.runhope.com , provides details on the routes in each city (just click on “route” then click on “schedule”). Contact Kristine Thompson if you’d like more information or would like to like to come by one of the runs. Additional information and photos can be found here: http://pitch.pe/56182 . More photos also are available upon request.