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Local Runners Raise Money for Relief Work in Africa

Twenty-five local runners will be heading north in October to run the Chicago Marathon. They’re running to raise awareness and funds for relief work in Africa. KSMU’s Missy Shelton reports.

Chris Miller and his wife went to Zambia last year.

Miller says, “I knew poverty was out there but it was this vague thing but to go over and see…it’s just a completely different world. I sit here and worry every morning about what I’m going to wear and buy for lunch, what’s going to make me happy today. And then to go into an environment where it’s a day-to-day worry about survival: Am I going to make it? Can I provide for my kids today? It was definitely life changing.”

This will be Miller’s second year running for World Vision in the Chicago Marathon. He and the other runners from the Springfield area are raising money for the humanitarian work World Vision does in Africa. Miller says he became team captain for the local runners after word got around that he was looking for a training partner.

Miller says, “We ended up with about 2 dozen people who ran a mile here, ran a mile there, who said, ‘I always wanted to do a marathon and if I can do it for this cause, it would be totally worth it. Will you help us?’ So I went from looking for a training partner to ‘hey coach.’ No real idea what I was doing but we figured it out last year and continue on this year and we’ve got 25 people again.”

To generate interest and support for World Vision, Miller will attempt to run a full-marathon, 26.2 miles on a treadmill this Friday during Arts Walk in downtown Springfield. He says he expects it to be challenging…but not nearly as challenging as a race he ran during his visit to Zambia last year.

Miller says, “The village held a race in honor of us. They had banners at the start and finish. They even had bib numbers for us but of course they don’t have all the resources we have so they just wrote numbers on pieces of paper and stapled them to our shirts. It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done. The race was mostly uphill but the coolest thing was that as we crossed the finish line, it was marked by a clean water well paid for by World Vision money. It cost approximately $13000 and that’s about how much our local team had raised.”

And Miller says when he gets tired while he’s running, he just thinks of the cause he’s running for and that gives him the motivation to press on to the finish line.