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Emma Horgan is nearing the end of a run across the country. She's not running away from problems, she's running to help cancer patients.
Horgan, who just graduated from Sewanee, the University of the South and a 2012 Western Reserve Academy graduate, is running with 4KforCancer.org.'s Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
She began her journey in San Francisco, Calif. June 19 and hopes to end the journey Aug. 6 in Baltimore, Md.
Why is she running?
"This past fall (my senior year at The University of the South) my mom called with some rough news. Our neighbor, a second mother to me, had been diagnosed with cancer and it was aggressive.
"The previous summer I had lost my grandfather to cancer and I was feeling like I was just standing by as cancer worked its course. At the same time I was also browsing for some jobs to apply for and eventually that lead to me coming across the 4K for Cancer. This run seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to do what I could for those battling cancer and also an awesome way to spend the summer after graduating," Horgan explained.
The journey has been challenging, but exciting.
"This has been such an amazing experience so far. Our route has taken us through beautiful parts of the US and every day there are new roads and terrain to conquer. The miles have been challenging, especially all the climbing we did to get over the Rockies but the experience has been more emotionally challenging than physically for me personally," she said.
She explained that every day five or more people would stop the group and share their cancer stories and thank them for running for cancer.
"The hard reality is almost every single person has a connection to the cancer community and this run has really shed light on that fact for me," Horgan said.
Horgan said the experience has been made easier with the support of friends and family.
"Everyday I receive emails, texts, calls filled with encouragement and stories and memories of loved ones that remind me why we are out in the heat running every day," she said.
Horgan began her cross-country trek by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and continued northeast through California, Lake Tahoe, through the Great Basin and large desert valleys separated by numerous towering mountain ranges.
The route is taking them through Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and across the Rocky Mountains. The team will run through the Great Plains in Nebraska before crossing into Iowa. Running northeast through Iowa, the team will travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Lake Michigan before heading south to Chicago, continuing to southern Indiana, the team then runs northeast across the state, through Ohio and Pennsylvania before turning south once more to enter their final state of Maryland and The Ulman Cancer Fund's home base of Baltimore.
According to the 4KforCancer website, since 2001, groups of college students have undertaken journeys across America with the goal of offering hope, inspiration and support to cancer communities along the way. In 2015, 170 4K for Cancer participants traveled across America and were able to raise over a million dollars to support young adults affected by cancer.
Runners are required to run between 6 and 16 miles each day. Team members are partnered up, running with the a teammate for their day's miles, but a different teammate each day. There will be rest days built in every 3-6 days of the trip. Running pairs will be dropped along the route in two-mile increments.
Horgan's goal for her run was to raise $5,000. At last count, she had exceeded that goal.
Would she do it again?
"I will definitely be participating," she said.
For more information, or to donate to the cause, visit 4Kforcancer.org.
Editor's note: Chris Sprunt contributed to this story.