A group of teens from Lafayette County is not letting the heat stop them from their mission.
The Darlington Cross Country Team is on a mission. Team members are running across the state to help find a cure for cancer. For the past 11 years, they've participated in “Run Across Wisconsin" to raise money for Relay For Life. Every year, the runners dedicate their journey to a cancer survivor. Darlington alumnus and former cross country runner Jeremiah Kleiber and Darlington Middle School English teacher Carmen Rielly are inspiring the students this year. Many of the students’ lives have directly been impacted by cancer.
"My grandma was diagnosed with cancer and also my aunt," said high school senior and cross country runner Andrea McGowan.
Written on their vans and their baton, the students carry the names of those who've inspired their two-day run.
"The fact that kids realize that you need to do something for somebody else" is one of the great things about the run, said head coach Arnie Miehe.
They started Friday morning in Darlington and will run from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. Miehe said the 36 students split up the nearly 140 miles.
"Each kid runs a half-mile at a time, so we have a van in front and a van behind, and they're dropping kids off and picking them up. They run their half-mile and then hop in the van. After that, another full van of kids comes along, so they're running about every hour, hour and 15 minutes," Miehe said.
Through pledges, the students hope to raise money for cancer research. Miehe said seeing the high schoolers' determination is inspiring to those along their path.
"We've had three people along the way donate money to us. A lady gave us $20, another person gave us $10, and $5," said Miehe.
They hope to raise at least $1,500 for the Lafayette County Relay for Life cause. During their brief pit stops, they reflect on the importance of their journey.
"I thought that it'd be good to give back, and plus, I get to be with all my teammates and classmates," said McGowan.
They expect to be in Monroe by 8 p.m. Friday. They'll finish up their run Saturday afternoon in Darlington at the Lafayette County Fair Grounds. Details on how you can help their cause are available online through relayforlife.org.