“...look at what Lisa is doing: she is using her birthday and her sport as platforms to help orphans," said Eileen McCaffrey, executive director of the Orphan Foundation of America. "She is an inspiration to us all."
Birmingham, Ala. (PRWEB) May 10, 2010
Internationally-known endurance athlete Lisa Smith-Batchen is a third of the way toward her goal of running 2,500 miles in two months to help orphans around the country and throughout the world. With more than 850 miles under her belt, she is Running Hope Through America and trying raise one million dollars for three organizations: AIDS Orphans Rising, The Caring House Project and the Orphan Foundation of America (OFA). Turning 50 this year, Smith-Batchen plans to hang up her running shoes at the end of this run, the most meaningful event of her career.
Over the years, she has logged hundreds of miles through the Sahara Desert and Death Valley and has run through some of the biggest, longest ultramarathons out there, but she has never attempted a run of this scale. No one has.
“I run, that’s what I do,” said Smith-Batchen. “If each of us did one thing to make the world a better place, together we could find solutions to many of the problems that plague orphans. I encourage people everywhere to do what they can by giving $5, $50 or $500 to change these young people’s lives. With the love and support they need and deserve, orphans can thrive.”
Smith-Batchen has a very personal connection to orphans, too: she and her husband have two adopted children. “If my kids hadn’t been adopted, they’d be orphans.”
Having started in N.J. on April 19, Smith-Batchen will finish the run on June 19 in her hometown of Victor, Idaho. Since the run began, she has pushed through a range of conditions, including a spring snow storm in New England, plenty of rain, some intense humidity and enough sunshine to motivate her. Every day, she starts running at 5:30 a.m. and finishes around 6 p.m. Every fourth or fifth day is a rest day.
“Many people celebrate their 50th with elaborate trips, sports cars and parties,” said Eileen McCaffrey, executive director, OFA. “But look at what Lisa is doing: she is using her birthday and her sport as platforms to help orphans. She is an inspiration to us all.”
Running Hope through America is the latest challenge for Smith-Batchen, one of the country’s top endurance athletes who has also coached thousands of runners. She 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.
“Although this grueling run will tax Lisa’s body and spirit, she is determined to make each step a statement about hope and change,” said Sister Mary Beth Lloyd, part of Smith-Batchen’s crew and affiliated with AIDS Orphans Rising. “Lisa is making a difference and so is everyone who helps her along the way.”
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.