WAYNESBURG – In the last six years, Chris Hardie, assistant dean of student services and cross country coach at Waynesburg University, has run many miles to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Each year, he has attempted to reach a new goal, surpassing the previous year’s feat both in distance and in money raised.
His first year, Hardie ran 51 miles in 9 ½ hours, crossing Greene County north to south then east to west; another year, 2008, he ran 65 miles from Mt. Morris to Pittsburgh in 13 hours and 45 minutes.
During the last six years, Hardie, through what he calls “Chris Cross the County,” from his first ultra-marathon criss-crossing the county in 2007, has raised more than $23,000 to support cancer research and other causes.
This year, Hardie has come up with a new scheme.
He and three of his assistant coaches, Shane Gottschalk, Michelle Cross and Mike Harwick, will attempt to run the “width” of Pennsylvania, from the West Virginia line in Mt. Morris to Lake Erie.
It’s about 200 miles and the four runners, each running about 50 miles, hope to complete the trek in three days.
“Two of the coaches have been training since November, while a couple of us waited until after the holidays to start,” he said. Everyone is ready. “And we’re pretty excited about it.”
The group plans to begin its run March 7 on Route 19 in Mt. Morris. The goals this year is to raise $10,000 for the American Cancer Society.
Raising money for cancer research has become something “near and dear to me,” Hardie said. Many people he knows have had the disease and several close to him have died.
“Every time I felt like I wanted to quit doing this, someone I knew and loved has died. It reinforces it and keeps it fresh,” he said.
Hardie said he believes it’s important a person uses whatever “gifts” he has to help others.
“As a member of this university, it is imperative for us to live out the mission of the university in our everyday lives and do more for others,” Hardie said. “I hope this event inspires our students at Waynesburg to utilize every gift that they have been given, to assist in a cause that they believe in.”
Hardie, 35, said he has been a runner since he was about 19 years old. He said he plans to continue the effort to raise money for cancer research because it’s important to him. “I’ll go until I can’t run anymore then, maybe, I’ll do something else like play chess for 24 hours,” he jokes.
Those who would like to make a donation to Chris Cross the County can contact Hardie at 814-931-1250 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks can be sent to Hardie, in care of Waynesburg University at 51 W. College St., Waynesburg, PA 15370.