Danville native Steve Scott knows a thing or two about cancer.
Scott has never been inflicted by the disease personally but he had to watch his late mother Evelyn — who passed away from issues unrelated to cancer earlier this year — struggle with breast cancer growing up.
It was an experience that has stayed with Scott throughout his whole life so it only makes sense that he would use his God-given ability to help those struggling with the disease and do his part to hopefully eradicate cancer so nobody will have to suffer like his mom did ever again.
Roughly two years ago, Scott — an avid and skilled runner — had just finished running the Boston Marathon when inspiration struck.
“I woke up in the middle of the night a couple of years ago and I had just ran the Boston Marathon and it was the worst conditions in like 20 years,” Scott said, laughing. “It was snowing, sleeting and freezing rain and I just woke up and said, ‘God, if I’m going to run I would like to run to help people and be a positive influence.”
Not long after, Scott came across some information for the World Marathon Challenge — a logistical and physical challenge that involves running seven marathons on seven different continents in seven days.
Scott had found his calling. He got to work right away, putting together Run for Health, a 501C3 non-profit organization that seeks to restore life to individuals and to promote a healthy lifestyle through running while also challenging their own selves to achieve their own goals and dreams.
In addition, the group has also been actively engaged in raising funds for the Danville-Pittsylvania County Cancer Association in support of Scott running the World Marathon Challenge.
Run for Health hasn’t been alone its efforts, though, as the Danville-Pittsylvania County community has joined in as well
Earlier this year, Scott had just finished speaking at a local church when he was approached by a woman from the congregation that he had never met. The woman told Scott the Lord had spoken to her in church and had told her she needed to help. She then proceeded to write Scott a check to help with his efforts.
Later that day, Scott was in the parking lot of Danville’s Starbucks when he received another random act of kindness from a stranger. He was having a conversation when a woman pulled up and once again wrote him a check.
“It’s been really awesome,” Scott said. “Things like that have been really good and there’s been big, big support from the community.”
Starting Feb. 2 and ending Feb. 6, competitors will run the standard 42.2 kilometer distance throughout Antarctica, Africa, Australia, Europe, South America and North America all within 168 hours or seven days. The World Marathon Challenge — also known as 7-7-7 — is the only annual event that allows runners the opportunity to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.
The race begins in Novo (Antarctica) and follows with stops in Cape Town (Africa), Perth (Australia), Dubai (Asia), Madrid (Europe), Fortaleza (South America) and ends in Miami. In all, participants will run 183 miles over the seven-day period and spend 68 hours in the air.
“I think the biggest factor is I don’t know what to expect,” Scott said. “I’ve been and am doing all the training I can do now from an individual that has run the race before and I’m basically going off their training program. But on the nutrition side of it when I run seven marathons in seven days, I’ll lose up to 7,000 calories on each run so the biggest thing I’ll be facing is how to replace that. We’ll see. I know I have to be smart. I can’t go into it killing myself.”
No matter the struggles Scott will face, he has some pretty solid inspiration to look back on when attempting to conquer this challenge.
“I just know what my mom went through and the strength she had her whole life to beat breast cancer and some of the other stuff she had to beat in life to give me the motivation and strength to do what I’m doing,” Scott said. “I’ve been through a lot of struggles and have had to endure a lot of negativity from people but my mom never quit and that’s driven me to the point I am today.”
Along with his mother, Scott will also draw on his faith and desire to affect positive change in the world while participating in the marathon.
“My thing has always been, ‘God lead me to something where I can use my running to help people and influence others or make awareness,” Scott said. “I feel like this is where God’s leading me and again, it’s not using God to get anything from anybody but the fact I’m a Christian and draw my strength from God.”
Scott’s overall goal is to raise $40,000 for the Danville-Pittsylvania Cancer Association. However, when his goal has been reached and the race has been run, Scott and Run for Health have no plans on quitting working for a positive change in the community.
“The long-term goal of this is helping Danville, Pittsylvania County, Caswell County and the surrounding communities,” Scott said. “We want to help those with autism, we want to help fire victims, anybody in need. We’re not big but we’re trying to be a small bite of something positive in this community.”