By Shannon Ehrhardt
KNOXVILLE, Iowa (KCCI) — Imagine running 31 miles in one full day.
“It’s not that hard,” said 16-year-old Natalie Collins.
Natalie’s mother died four years ago due to breast cancer. She said she runs to pass on the love and care her mother had for her, to other people. One thing she runs in is the Knoxville Cancer Relay.
“Thursday to Friday, every hour for 24 hours, two people take shifts running 5-mile loops around the town for cancer,” said Senior Cross Country runner, Mason Hatch.
And there’s a nine-year tradition the Cross Country Team will never run away from, running as a pack at three in the morning.
“It’s just really surreal, the highway is empty and it’s just our team at 3 a.m. running past all of these signs and it’s just a really meaningful thing,” said sophomore runner Janie Maasdam.
The signs Janie is referring to are signs of people who have cancer, who’ve survived cancer, and who have passed from cancer. Natalie said the sign of her mom is what pushes her through the run.
“We can run ten miles for everything they’ve been through,” said Mason.
Natalie, who is also a part of Relay for Life, ran 5-mile loops, each in just 42 minutes. That helped her raise $2,500, the highest of any individual fundraiser.
“It feels really good because you’re like I accomplished something that’s crazy and not a lot of people can do,” she said.
Natalie did it without the person who meant the most.
“She was my best friend, so she really just helped me through everything. She helped me with how to live and taught me who to be.”
Natalie is the number one cross-country runner in Knoxville. She led the Knoxville Cancer Relay runners 756 miles in 24 hours, all the way to the football field for Knoxville’s Friday Night game.
The amount they raised is kept secret until the Coaches versus Cancer Basketball Game in January, but last year alone, they raised $25,000 for cancer research.
They’re trying to top it this year, so if you want to donate, go to Knoxville Cancer Relay on Facebook.
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