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Kevin Schnepf, Published May 19 2012

Schnepf: Many run for cause

FARGO - Matt Scheid was snapping pictures of runners just beyond the starting line of Saturday’s Fargo Marathon.

He was looking for his older brother, Tom, who was among the steady stream of the more than 2,000 runners who embarked on the full-marathon course.

Like so many who ran the streets of Fargo-Moorhead on Saturday, Tom raised money for a cause. In this case, his 26.2-mile act of kindness was for Matt’s upcoming mission work in Kenya.

Like many who participate in running events across the country, Tom tapped into the marathon’s magical flair of attracting supporters for a cause.

According to Running USA, running events generated $1.1 billion for charitable causes in 2011 – twice the amount that was raised 10 years ago.

In Fargo-Moorhead this weekend, 25 charities participated in the GoFarCharity event – a facet of the Fargo Marathon that raised almost $300,000 for local and regional charities the past two years.

That doesn’t include the seemingly countless other causes, like the one Tom Scheid adopted for his brother.

“My brother is very passionate about what he is doing, and it’s nice knowing I can use something I’m passionate about to help him out,” said Matt, a 26-year-old who manages the exercise and fitness department at Scheels All Sport in Fargo. “I’m sure at mile 20 or 22, Matt’s mission is what I will be thinking about for motivation. Having something to run for other than just a time, that’s a driving force.”

So, once again, the Fargo Marathon courses were littered with runners who were running for organ donations, Alzheimer’s, cancer, the heart, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, autism, rape and abuse awareness, Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities of North Dakota, FM Dorothy Day House, Habitat for Humanity, March of Dimes.

“The marathon is really a true test of endurance, it’s painful but rewarding – much like all these causes,” said Fargo Marathon director Mark Knutson.

Brooke Curran, a mother of three, brought her cause to Fargo all the way from her home in Alexandria, Va. She ran in her 47th marathon as part of her goal to run on every continent and in every state.

The lavish ambition is her way to raise awareness for asthma and has helped raise $140,000 for five charities focused on children and families in her hometown.

“It got to the point I felt empty at the finish line,” Curran said. “I literally felt no joy or sense of success. I wanted to run for something that meant something to me.”

Her purpose of running changed dramatically in 2009 when she collapsed on the track after experiencing painful burning in her chest and shortness of breath. She was diagnosed with asthma and exercise induced brochospasm (www.EIBActive.com).

But with the help of her ProAir inhaler, Curran has run marathons on six continents and 35 states. She will run in Hawaii in June and Salt Lake City in July.

“I think people see it as inspirational,” Curran said, trying to explain donors’ fascination with the running world. “They realize they can help with this cause and get on board with their checkbooks.”

Donating to a running cause, it seems, has become contagious.

Last year, Triumph Lutheran Brethren Church in Moorhead used the Fargo Marathon to raise $18,000 to help build five new water wells in Chad, Africa. One of the members of that church is Ernie Scheid – who used that premise to talk his son, Tom, into running his first marathon to raise money for Matt’s mission.

“I decided in March that I would do the full marathon instead of the half,” Tom said. “The drive for me is that I respect greatly what my brother is doing.”

And vice versa.

“This was a big commitment from Tom,” Matt said. “Running a marathon is no small deal.”

Nor, as it seems lately, is running for a cause.

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

or at kschnepf@forumcomm.com