CUW Coach Takes on 24-hour Run for Student Battling Cancer

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[Left] Russ DeLap family, [Right] Lilly Johnson
[Left] Russ DeLap family, [Right] Lilly Johnson

Concordia University Wisconsin’s head cross country and track & field coach is going the extra mile for one of his own.

Russ DeLap, 59, will on Nov. 5 attempt a 24-hour “run” on Concordia’s campus in support of Lilly Johnson, a CUW student-athlete who, on May 20, 2016, was diagnosed with stage 2B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

An exemplary student and athlete, Johnson has stood out on the track and in the classroom since her arrival at CUW, says DeLap.

“It’s been a very long time since I felt this passionate about something,” DeLap said. “Lilly is such a deserving person. I don’t care if I have to run, walk, or crawl it — I’m going to finish.”

DeLap will begin his feat of athleticism at 11 a.m. on Saturday and plans to continue through the night, ending 24 hours later at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6 (taking into account Daylight Saving Time).

DeLap’s route will be repeated laps on the approximately one-mile road that circles Concordia’s scenic campus. He estimates he’ll fit in between 75 and 100 laps in the 24-hour period, where he’ll stop only for the occasional 5- to 10-minute breaks for rest or refueling.

It’s not the first time DeLap has attempted such a feat of endurance. In 2004, he endeavored to break a Guinness World Record for most miles completed on a treadmill in 24 hours. DeLap had to call off the attempt due to an injury, but raised $8,000 for Concordia’s Sports and Fitness Center.

Just before DeLap starts his run on Nov. 5, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and other Concordia supporters are invited to join in the annual President’s Run, a 5K race on Concordia’s campus that will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Proceeds from this year’s President’s Run will be donated to the Lilly Fund, which will go towards offsetting costs incurred from Johnson’s treatment. Those interested may register for the President’s Run at www.imathlete.com/events/presidentsrun.

DeLap and his teams are also raising funds through the crowdfunding site www.crowdrise.com/we-run-for-lilly1. Donors can choose to contribute a flat rate or, they can pledge per Delap’s completed miles here.

Those who can’t make it to the We Run for Lilly event are encouraged to show their support by documenting their own off-campus run, however small it may be. Runners are encouraged to wear purple and post a photo of themselves using #WeRunForLilly.

Other suggested ways to show support include purchasing a $2 “We Run for Lilly” bracelet at CUW during the events or writing a note of encouragement to Johnson at registration.

We Run For Lilly Day is one of many events happening Nov. 5 as part of CUW’s Homecoming celebration. Other activities include:

Follow the We Run For Lilly efforts on Facebook: www.facebook.com/werunforlilly.