SUNBURY — The last leg of a 3,260-mile ultra relay to benefit research for multiple sclerosis starts in Sunbury this morning.
Bridget McElroy, 30, of Oak Brooke, Ill., ran 150 miles over six days from Brookville to the parking lot of the Greater Susquehanna Valley YMCA on Fourth Street in Sunbury at noon Friday as part of MS Run the US. Jamie Woyce, 30, of East Rutherford, N.J., will run the last 188 miles from Sunbury to the finish line at Harlem Hospital in New York City.
"I'm running for my aunt and two cousins with MS," said McElroy, a second-grade teacher. "It's a way to use a hobby I love to make their lives better."
McElroy was greeted by youth from the YMCA as she crossed the finish line on Friday. She has raised nearly $11,000 for the cause.
"I'm running for my sister who has MS," said Woyce, a sixth-grade teacher. "I'm a runner. So this seemed like a good chance to do something good for someone else."
MS is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another, according to MS Run the US.
Woyce plans to start at 5 a.m. today from the YMCA. McElroy offered advice for her fellow runner.
"Just keeping moving forward regardless of the pace you're running," said McElroy. "As long as you're moving forward you're making progress. She's going to do great."
The mountains in Pennsylvania were tough, but the views were worth the time, said McElroy.
The run begins each year in April in Los Angeles and finishes in August in New York City. To participate, each runner commits to fundraising $10,000 over 10 months and to run approximately 160 miles over six consecutive days. There are 19 segments and 22 participants ran this year, not including casual runners who briefly join the runners, according to event spokesmen William Komas and Peter Oviatt.
"I've noticed people who are so much better and have a better prognosis than 15 years ago," said Oviatt. "For so many people, it's getting better, and that's what we're doing here. We're bringing awareness."