Conant alumna runs 4,000 miles in honor of Schaumburg pastor

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    Decker's brother, Joe, surprises her in Baltimore. He is a member of the Marines and is stationed in Japan.
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    Decker shows her dedication by writing Peterson's name on the back of her legs.
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    Decker and the team holds the Ulman Cancer Charity flag as they cross the Illinois border.

With less than half a year of training, 22-year-old Kristin Decker began a coast-to-coast month-and-a half relay run on June 14 in San Francisco with 27 other runners. Decker was able to raise over $10,000 in memory of the late Reverend Matt Peterson, who lost his battle with cancer in 2011 at age 41. Both Peterson and Decker are Conant alumni, graduating in 1988 and 2011, respectively.

Decker’s team finished its charity run in Baltimore, MD., Decker’s current hometown, on August 1. Every member of the team dedicated their run to someone close to their hearts who has been diagnosed with cancer. In order to start the run, every runner had to raise $4,500.

The team ran in coordination with 4K For Cancer, a program of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. The goal of the run was to raise awareness and money for young adults battling cancer. The organization set up the route and the team was given the option to bike or run.

“I wanted to run because sitting on a bike for 4,000 miles did not sound fun at all. Plus, I enjoy running,” Decker said.

The run was relay-style across the country. Each morning they would run their miles for the day (from one city to the next), and the miles were divided up for each pair that was running. For example, if they had to run 50 miles that day, and they had five pairs running, each pair would run a different 10 miles at the same time.

Decker explained that it was completed that way so that there was a foot on every step across the country.

On July 15, the runners reached Chicago and Decker was able to spend the night at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Schaumburg, where Peterson was the youth pastor. When the team arrived in Schaumburg, they were warmly greeted by Peterson’s family–and Decker’s.

Joe Decker, a United States marine, surprised his sister when the team arrived in Baltimore.

Decker said, “He took leave time and surprised me the day before the run ended and completed all my miles with me, and crossed the finish line with me at the end. It means so much to me to have him there.”

After her run, Decker continued to think about Rev. Peterson. She remembered the first time they met, when she was going through a rough time. She had asked him, “Why am I going through this?”

He said, “Why me, why cancer?”

Decker said that the conversation was the start of an unexplainable connection. She said that the reason why she wanted to run was so she could make a difference in the world the same way he did for her.

“Saying goodbye to him for the last time was one of the hardest things I had to do, and I do not want anyone to ever experience what I did,” she said. “So, I ran 4,000 miles across America in memory of my friend.”

Click here to visit Decker’s donation site. Donate to Decker’s page online or via mail.

Dylan Toth

Dylan is a junior, and his third year writing for the Crier. Dylan is the co-founder of Cougar Service Club. In his free time, he enjoys to watch Grey's Anatomy on Netflix and cook. Dylan is a member of Boy Scouts of America and is almost an Eagle Scout! In the future, Dylan would like to become a teacher or go into politics.

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