Runners jog 32 feet for cancer cure
Hortonville woman with cancer raises $9,000
By Scott Bellile
A Hortonville woman with pancreatic cancer who said she knows nothing about running raised money toward cancer research through a charity race with an odd twist.
Four hours after 47 runners veered through Hortonville Saturday, July 25, for the Hope, Heart and Sole 5k, event organizer Andrea Ritchie assembled 10 less serious runners outside Hortonville Lanes bowling alley for a 0.01 km foot race.
Yes, a 0.01k—that’s 32 feet, or roughly the length of two SUVs.
Ritchie had multiple reasons for the 0.01k. On the serious side, it was a doable distance for other people suffering from diseases. On the goofy side, healthy locals were hard-pressed to find an excuse to say no to a 32-feet charity run, and those participants could stage entertaining grand finishes.
Ritchie said her father Al Vruwink gave her the idea for a 0.01k when he suggested she organize a charity race and she responded she wasn’t knowledgeable about running.
The 0.01k was just a small part of Ritchie’s 16-hour fundraiser for the Lustgarten Foundation. The day of raffles, live music and a silent auction raised more than $9,000, of which $0 will go toward Ritchie’s own cancer treatment expenses.
Ritchie, a 2000 New London High School graduate, grew up with a rare and painful birth defect called Pancreatic Divisum.
“I guess my pancreas just hated me,” Ritchie said. “It has hated me from the day I was born.”
In August 2013 she was hospitalized with Chronic Pancreatitis. Four months later, at age 31 she was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. One percent of people with Stage IV pancreatic cancer live another five years.
“You kind of know that once you get pancreatic cancer, it’s almost a death sentence,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie said she is faring well. After a year of chemotherapy she is taking a break.
“I have been blowing statistics out of the water,” Ritchie said. “I was given six to nine months to live, and instead of getting more sick, I was getting healthier.”
Ritchie will keep an online fundraiser open for several more days on hopeheartsole.com in hopes of cracking her initial $15,000 goal. She is planning a second Hope, Heart and Sole next year that she hopes will incorporate a nighttime color run and a live auction.
And as comically short as the 0.01k route is, that will receive more attention, too.
“We’re going to really try and expand the 0.01k next year,” Ritchie said.