By Dianne Frances D. Powell
TERRE HAUTE —
Outside the Vigo County Courthouse, waiting runners burst into cheers and shouted “Welcome to Terre Haute!” as a group of runners from Illinois ran toward them, carrying a baton and the U.S. flag for One Run for Boston’s first baton handoff in Indiana.
One Run for Boston, a cross-country, non-stop running relay — which organizers say is the first ever in America — made a stop in Terre Haute Sunday as it travels east. Its goal is to spread awareness and raise funds benefiting victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
When they say non-stop, they mean non-stop.
Day or night, rain or shine, a participant of the relay runs an average stretch of 10 miles to pass the baton to the next person or group.
At about 5 a.m. Sunday, Bob Lynch of West Terre Haute ran the 10-mile stretch from Greenup, Ill., to Casey, Ill. with his friend, Joe Inman.
Lynch said he saw an article about One Run for Boston in a magazine and felt strongly about participating to raise awareness and money for the cause.
“It’s bigger than myself,” Lynch said.
Lynch got a few friends to come along, including Inman.
Inman said he agreed to participate “so the victims will know they are supported from coast to coast.”
By mid-day, other runners from Illinois handed over the baton to Terre Haute residents Mary Thacker, Majel Wells and Laura Fredenhall as they started their 10-mile legs of a run from Terre Haute to Cloverdale.
Other runners in the group were Louie Brown of Clinton, Tom Carpenter of Fort Wayne and Bob Weston, former Terre Haute resident who now resides in Florida.
The distance is not a problem for these runners.
“Most of us are used to the long distance,” Fredenhall said.
“Runners really care about other runners. This [the relay] is a wonderful opportunity to raise money in a meaningful way,” she added.
With one possible difficulty.
“It’s going to be a hot day,” she said.
Other runners in the group agreed, but said the heat is not a deterrent when they believe in the cause.
Carpenter — who drove from Fort Wayne for the run — said he decided to participate in order “to step up and do something … to give back” to the running community.
But runners are also getting something out of this experience.
“It’s fun to run with people,” Carpenter added.
The baton left Los Angeles on June 7 and is expected to arrive in Boston on June 30, traveling more than 3,000 miles with more than 1,500 runners participating, One Run for Boston co-founder Kate Treleaven said.
Those are just the registered runners. Treleaven, who was in Terre Haute to see the baton exchange, said other people just turn up at locations to run with the group.
“We’re not turning anyone away,” Treleaven said.
So far, the initiative has raised more than $63,000 in fees collected from registered runners and donations made on the run’s website.
Treleaven said 75 percent of the money collected from runners will go to “The One Fund Boston,” the fund set up to help victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, while the rest will go toward administrative expenses.
However, 100 percent of the money donated to www.onerunforboston.org will be given to the fund, she said.
Treleaven and her two friends, Danny Bent and Jamie Hay, started One Run for Boston after hearing about the bombings at home in England.
“It shocked us to the core,” Treleaven said.
On April 15, two bombs struck near the finish line at Boston Marathon. The blasts killed three and injured over 100 people.
Treleaven said the Boston Marathon was turned into a negative event after the bombings so they decided to create One Run for Boston to associate running with something positive once again.
And the reaction and support have been overwhelming.
“Runners just grasp this with both hands,” she said.
She spoke of meeting people across the country who were at the Boston Marathon and sharing their stories.
For them, “being part of One Run for Boston is part of the healing process,” she said.
Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or dianne.powell@trib