By Ryan Kaczmarski
Fairview Park native Rachel Aldrich loves to run. But yesterday, she started a run out of love.
Aldrich (22) started the Ohio leg of the Multiple Sclerosis Run the US relay yesterday in Fort Wayne, Ind., which will see her treck 245 miles across Ohio, finally finishing in Youngstown on Aug. 16. She is dedicating each day of her run to a different person who suffers from or has died from multiple sclerosis.
“My mother has the disease, so this run and cause is extremely personal and important to me,” Aldrich said. “I just stumbled across the website one day. I think I was reading another article about MS and came across the website (http://www.msruntheus.com/) and I read the description and the application deadline was due in two weeks to be a runner.
“I told myself that I have to do this, so I filled out the application. Within a couple days, I had a phone interview with Ashley Kumlein (the creator of the event) and it kind of snowballed from there.”
The MS Run the US is a nonprofit, which focuses on finding a cure for multiple sclerosis. The relay is comprised of 15 runners who will do a tag-team relay 3,000 miles across the U.S. The relay started April 15 in Los Angeles, Calif., and will conclude on Sept. 6 in New York City.
Each runner has a fundraising minimum of $10,000 that they are supposed to reach.
“That is the big thing, just the fundraising and trying to train for your run,” Aldrich said.
Although dealing with MS can be trying for any family, Aldrich and her family have learned to take each day in stride.
“My mother has had the disease for more than 10 years now,” she said. “She is actually one of the luckier ones, because the day-to-day (process) is not too difficult for us. She still walks and goes to the (Gemini Center) and exercises. She can’t run anymore, so it really does affect her, but day-to-day she is fine.
“We also have a cousin with MS, who is not so lucky,” Aldrich continued. “It’s pretty debilitating for her. She’s wearing down a lot faster. As a family it is something in the back of our minds, but it’s not consuming our lives.”
Aldrich’s mother was never a competitive runner, but she always used to run for exercise in the past.
“I remember, in the summers growing up, I’d come downstairs in the morning and she’d be coming back from being out on a run,” she said. “It’s something she did for a long time just for fun and to keep in shape. The MS has really affected her legs, so she can’t do it anymore.”
Even though she has only started running about four years ago, Aldrich has now run seven marathons and three ultramarathons.
“At (Fairview High School), I played soccer and softball, so I always liked running, but I never did it for a team,” she said. “I just started running when I went away to (Otterbein University).”
She has recently graduated from Otterbein, and is now going to The University of Akron for a graduate degree.
For more information on the MS Run the US or to donate money, go to the Rachel Aldrich web page at http://www.msruntheus.com/rachelaldrich/.
You can also donate to MS Run the US by printing out the Menchie’s flier at the bottom of this story posted in the West Life sports archives. On Aug. 12-13, 20 percent of your purchase at Menchie’s at 20649 Center Ridge Road, Rocky River, will go to multiple sclerosis research.