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Going the distance for charity

Franc celebrates his finish at last year’s NJ marathon with the executive race director Joe Gigas (left) and his father (right), who also ran. Photo courtesy of Gabe Franc)
Franc celebrates his finish at last year’s NJ marathon with the executive race director Joe Gigas (left) and his father (right), who also ran. Photo courtesy of Gabe Franc)

By T.J. von Bradsky

For many, running a marathon is something that is simply talked about in the abstract. Maybe it’s even put on the bucket list. But this is not the case for junior interactive multimedia major Gabe Franc.

Franc decided to take action toward achieving the grueling task of running 26.2 miles in one sitting.

“I wanted to do it as a challenge and to push myself by accomplishing something that is fairly unique,” he said.

But Franc is helping others overcome their own personal challenges in the process.

Franc has raised thousands of dollars for brain cancer research through The Kortney Rose Foundation. He ran his first race, the annual New Jersey marathon, as a 17-year-old high school senior in 2011. Since then, he has completed each New Jersey marathon, as well as participating in the Philadelphia Half-Marathon.

Franc knew he wanted to help others, so he began searching the New Jersey Marathon website for potential charities. The Kortney Rose Foundation stood out to him, so he began his first 26.2-mile-long journey with a purpose.

“I felt attached to the Foundation since brain cancer is really terrible and since it is affecting children who are innocent,” he said.

organization itself was created by the parents of Kortney Rose, a 9-year-old girl who passed away from a rare brain tumor in 2006, according to the Kortney Rose Foundation website. It is a nonprofit charity with the goal of raising awareness and money for pediatric brain cancer research.

Brain tumors are among the most commonly diagnosed tumors in children. On average, about nine children a day are told they have a brain tumor, according to the Kortney Rose Foundation website. But funding for research is not nearly up to par with other common diseases. In fact, money available for childhood brain cancer research has decreased every year since 2003, the website says.

Knowing this, Franc continues to do his best for the cause. He will be competing once again in the New Jersey Marathon later this month.

The inspiration he draws from children like Kortney Rose helps him to stay motivated and consistently place amongst the top runners in his age group. He runs six days a week preparing for marathons. In the past two races, he has been one of the top-three finishers in his age group and finished last year’s marathon in three hours and nine minutes.

“The sense of accomplishment with a challenge like a marathon is definitely fulfilling,” Franc said.

Franc identifies with the extremely long process that the Kortney Rose Foundation is undergoing in helping to find a cure. Marathons are 26.2-mile-long expeditions that require a tremendous amount of persistence, just like the fight for a cure.

“As I start to get closer and closer to the finish line, I think back about how far my journey has been to get to that point,” Franc said.

Pediatric brain cancer research may be stalling, but Franc is helping it pick up its pace. After all, he is a pretty good candidate for the job.


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