Marion Xcountry runs for a cause

November 2, 2018

By Aaron Michell
Correspondent

On Monday, October 29th the Marion Cross Country teams ran for something far more important than medals or trophies.
They ran for a cause.

15 members of the team, along with parents and staff, combined to run over 20 miles of the Pere Marquette Trail, from Evart to Reed City, where they finished by donating more than $2000 to the Susan P. Wheatlake Cancer Center.

The athletes were able to gather donations from local community members and businesses, and present a check to the center upon arrival. The donation will help provide patients with wigs, scarves and services such as massages and acupuncture.
Marion Coach Jason Keeler was pretty proud of his kids.

“It wasn’t actually my idea,” Keeler said. “I asked the kids where they thought the best place to go with a donation would be. Andrea [Weaver] suggested that we donate here.”

Keeler said that his athletes wanted to give to a local cause. They wanted to donate to a place close to home where they could see the benefits firsthand.

Jennifer Ames, practice manager at Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center receives a donation check from senior members of the Marion High School cross country team. They are surrounded by other team members, family members, Spectrum Health staff, a member of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department (left, rear) who escorted the team on its run through Reed City and, at right, coach Jason Keeler. The team continued raising money even after the $1,350 check was prepared. By the time they arrived they had raised more than $1,900 and coach Jason Keeler said the total might well top $2,000 before the team’s project is finished.

Jennifer Ames, practice manager at Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center receives a donation check from senior members of the Marion High School cross country team. They are surrounded by other team members, family members, Spectrum Health staff, a member of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department (left, rear) who escorted the team on its run through Reed City and, at right, coach Jason Keeler. The team continued raising money even after the $1,350 check was prepared. By the time they arrived they had raised more than $1,900 and coach Jason Keeler said the total might well top $2,000 before the team’s project is finished.

“Even as we started to get people making donations, a lot of them would say: Yeah, I know so-and-so who goes there, and maybe even they themselves have been here for various support,” Keeler said. “For me it’s these types of connections. Supporting each other. These people support a lot of people. We wanted to support them. Other people supported us.”

In total, the group covered a combined 120 miles on their way to the center, with runners splitting up to cover stretches of the Pere Marquette Trail ranging from one to eight miles. Parents and staff helped make the trip possible by running alongside and shuttling runners from one stretch to the next.

With a police escort over the final stretch, the athletes made their way up to the center where they were greeted by staff, media, patients, and fans.

Keeler was heckled by his team during his TV 9 and 10 interview, which came as no surprise.

“I shouldn’t expect any less from them!” Keeler said. “They’re a good group of kids. And to be received like we were received today was great.”



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