Dad Looking For Runners, Walkers Up For Big Challenge
Posted: September 9, 2014
By SALLY VOTH
The Winchester Star
STEPHENS CITY — With every mile he runs, Jeremy Sanders is helping babies in distress and working through his grief for the newborn boy he lost 10 years ago.
Sanders, 38, is challenging other runners to take part in the For Lucas 10×10 Challenge — run 10 miles a day for 10 days straight, and do it all before the end of the month. He said the challenge can be walked, and the 10 miles can be split into two portions of one day.
The runners gather sponsors, and any money raised would go to The Lucas Fund, which helps babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at University of Virginia Children’s Hospital in Charlottesville.
That’s where Sanders’ son, Lucas Carson Sanders, was born and died on Sept. 18, 2004.
His wife, Jennifer, was 31 weeks pregnant when she started to go into labor. Shortly before Lucas’ birth, doctors diagnosed him with hydrops fetalis, a condition in which a fetus has an “abnormal collection of fluid,” which may be under the skin, in the abdomen, around the lungs or around the heart, according to perinatology.com.
“He lived probably about an hour or so,” Sanders said Monday. “We got to spend a little bit of time with him. He [left] a footprint on our family.”
The couple set up the fund in honor of their son to provide other NICU babies with diapers, pacifiers, blankets, and even hotel stays for parents.
So far, it has raised $13,559, according to firstgiving.com/fundraiser/jeremy-sanders/lucasfund, which can also be reached via forlucas.com.
“It’s basically just to make people as comfortable as possible,” Sanders said. “It’s a really trying time when anybody’s in the neonatal intensive care unit for anything.”
Sanders took up running in 2011.
“It was mostly just to lose weight, get into shape so I could keep up with my kids,” he said. “Since then, it has developed into a full-blown passion.”
He’s since lost about 45 pounds, run three marathons and many other races, and now blogs about it at runningdad.com.
Running has also helped Sanders with the loss of his firstborn.
“It’s a good way to destress,” he said. “I’ve probably thought more about Lucas when I run than any other time. It’s helped with the grieving process for sure.”
In July 2013, Sanders started giving $1 for every mile he runs to The Lucas Fund. He’s run 2,100 miles since then.
The two sons the Sanderses have had since Lucas have gotten involved in Daddy’s pastime, too.
Connor, 8, will often run or bike alongside Sanders. Cole, 2, also gets involved, and Jennifer Sanders does obstacle courses.
“[Losing Lucas] has made us appreciate our other children so much more,” he said. “We’ve talked all about it.”
Connor understands he has an older brother who died, but Cole’s grasp is more limited.
“When we go by [Shenandoah Memorial Park], he says, ‘There’s Lucas,’” Sanders said.
Not only is running 10 miles no easy feat, it takes quite a bit of time, he said.
“If people aren’t up for running, [they can] sponsor one of the runners,” Sanders said.
For every $50 a runner raises, they’ll be entered into a prize drawing, he said. These include a pair of SKORA Fit running shoes, a recovery drink from Abloc Nutrition and a hydration mix.
To sign up for the challenge, visit runningdad.com, and click on For Lucas 10×10 Challenge.
Donations to The Lucas Fund can be made at the firstgiving.com site or by going to University of Virginia Health System, P.O. Box 800773, Charlottesville, Va. 22908-0773. Checks should be made out to UVa Fund/Children’s Hospital, with “Lucas Fund” in the memo line.
— Contact Sally Voth at email@example.com