By Tammy Watts
ARCANUM — For many people, the idea of running a marathon is formidable. Now imagine running seven back-to-back marathons in as many days.
Former Arcanum resident Laurie Dutkiewicz will be doing just that — running 177 miles in seven days, across the state of Utah, with MS Run the US. The organization is dedicated to raising money for people living with Multiple Sclerosis, as well as research into better treatments for the disease.
Dutkiewicz draws inspiration from her husband, who was diagnosed with MS at the age of 22. Now 47, he has been able to manage the condition through exercise, and a carefully regulated diet. “He never complains,” says Dutkiewicz, a characteristic shared by the children who motivated her to start running in the first place.
During medical school, Dutkiewicz began volunteering with children undergoing cancer treatments. She marveled at how they stayed positive, and felt compelled to take action. She started running, completing her first marathon in Columbus, Ohio, for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Now, as an ER physician, she runs to balance out the stress inherent to her career.
When Dutkiewicz learned of MS Run the US, it was the perfect fit for her, drawing on her love of distance running to support her husband, and others like him. The organization not only uses donations for research, but assists low-income MS patients with equipment and accessibility tools they need to enjoy a better quality of life.
First, however, she had to go through a rigorous application process. Only 19 runners were selected from a pool of thousands of applicants nationwide. Dutkiewicz was contacted for interviews with the assistant director, and then the executive director of MS Run the US, before she learned that she had been chosen. In addition to completing the run, she is required to raise at least $10,000 for the cause.
The relay begins in Santa Monica, Calif., and ends in New York City in May. Dutkiewicz will be running the fourth leg of the race through Utah. She chose a western state, due to the closer proximity to her present home in southern Oregon. Her mother also suggested Utah, for its unique scenic beauty. The mountainous terrain may daunt some runners, but not Dutkiewicz.
“If I can bring help or hope to someone living with MS by raising awareness, funds, and challenging my own body to seven marathons in seven days, then now is the time and I will tackle the hard things to do it,” she states on her profile for MS Run the US.
To make a donation to MS Run the US on Laurie Dutkiewicz’s fundraising profile, please visit https://bit.ly/3Hdwrox.
To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Tammy Watts, email [email protected]