It was the philanthropic spirit instilled in him from years of serving in Rotary that urged one Rotarian to test his physical and mental limits and run across the Grand Canyon – all to raise funds for a cause close to his heart.
The Rotary Club of West Shore’s Mike Reilly completed the feat and helped his team raise $108,000 USD for Run2Revive, which supports the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and ALS – in memory of his grandmother, who lost her battle with Alzheimer’s in 2004.
Raising funds was only part of the effort leading up to the big event. Reilly also had to undergo intense training to prepare himself for this challenge.
“Knowing that Arizona can still be as hot as 40 degrees in September made me concerned. There was no way to train in those conditions in Victoria. My biggest concern was the landscape. From the South Rim to the North Rim, there is a significant elevation change: 6,000 feet down and 7,000 feet up. Without doing repeats of my local hills while wearing garbage bags, there was no way to replicate the conditions.”
The entire 22-mile journey (with all the ups and downs in elevation) took just over 11 hours, during which time Reilly had to tap into his mental strength to keep going.
“My focus was on keeping my feet moving forward as we climbed up the 7,000 feet, one switchback at a time. Well-meaning hikers coming down did their best to encourage (‘Only three miles left!’ and ‘You’re nearly there!’), but I didn’t find it improved my mood. No matter how high we climbed, the edge of the rim never seemed to get closer. We eventually heard the clanging of cow bells as hikers ahead were welcomed to the ‘finish line,’ and my mood did a 180!”
When asked what his biggest challenge was?
“Over the next three days, trying to walk after sitting in a chair!”
To learn more about The Run2Revive, visit: https://www.run2revive.org/