100 miles to go to save lives
by Staff Writer
When Lorrie Cassanos of Mooresville struck up a conversation with Mooresville-based model Richard Lima in an Ollie’s store where he was working part-time, little did either of them realize that brief chat would lead to selfless giving of epic proportions.
Already known for his habit of running many miles to raise money for charities such as Mooresville Soup Kitchen and the Humane Society, Lima happened to mention to Cassanos that he was looking for a new cause to champion. That’s when she told him about her friend Nilsa Maldonado and her fight with Stage IV stomach cancer that has metastasized to her lungs and liver.
Initially, the plan was to have Lima run 100 miles as a fundraiser for Maldonado, but when she heard about it, things took a twist. Instead of accepting the funds for herself, Maldonado requested they be sent to The Sandbox, a non-profit for children with cancer who are at Levine Children’s Hospital and their families.
“There are a lot of people out there who need help,” Maldonado said. “Children are so special, and these kids haven’t really started their lives. I’ve had my time.”
With the help of Starr Kiser at Slick events and other volunteers, Lima set up Miles 4 Hope and began plotting his benefit run. The plan was to cover 100 miles in fewer than 24 hours on Oct. 28 starting at Directions USA, the agency in Greensboro where Lima’s modeling career is based. From Greensboro, Lima intended to run all the way to Mooresville, but foul weather got in the way.
“It was pouring rain and freezing,” Lima said. “It just kept getting worse.”
Lima made it 70 grueling miles, but had to call a halt to his effort. He was taken to Rowan Regional Medical Center and treated for hypothermia, dehydration and low blood sugar.
Nonetheless, the next day, Oct. 29, Lima was at Lowe’s YMCA where he and Maldonado were united for a victory lap and celebration.
Maldonado’s husband, Brent Burns, said the couple was moved at the work Lima and the other volunteers put into the run.
“I’m amazed at how much generosity and what a spirit of giving Richard has,” Burns said. “He did all this without knowing Nilsa very well. It’s amazing how one person can devote so much to another. He inspired Nilsa and myself.”
Lima’s fundraising run and the fact that Maldonado wanted the money to go to The Sandbox also touched others. Sponsors are coming on board. Plans are in the works for Miles 4 Hope to become an annual event at Lowes YMCA and to include not just runners, but bicyclists as well.
“I thought it was going to be a one-time thing,” Lima said. “But support is already coming in. Mooresville is the most giving town I’ve ever seen.”
Though the final tally of funds raised by Lima’s run are being calculated, donations to The Sandbox are still being taken. A website has been set up at www.whatsinyoursandbox.org.