Charly Erpelding, above, an 8-year-old student at Hoover Elementary in Bettendorf, recently was diagnosed with stage 4 Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. Supporters are raising money to help pay for her medical treatments, which include surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. For more information or to make a donation, visit cheerinforcharly.com.
The Leadville 100 is billed as the “Race Across the Sky,” a 100-mile run across the treacherous terrain of the Colorado Rockies that tests the limits of its participants’ endurance.
Two local men have been training for the August race, and in the process are hoping to help a Bettendorf girl facing a battle of her own.
John Byrne, 47, of Bettendorf, and Rick Fountain, 42, of LeClaire, began training in September for the race, which will be held Aug. 18-19
in Leadville, Colo., southwest of Denver.
Fountain came up with the idea of using the efforts to raise money for 8-year-old Charly Erpelding of Bettendorf, the daughter of Andy and Tara Erpelding, who recently was diagnosed with stage 4 Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer that affects children.
Fountain said he has known the Erpeldings for many years and wanted to do something to help her.Andy Erpelding said while his daughter is providing inspiration for Byrne and Fountain, she also is being inspired and motivated by those who have rallied to support her.
In addition to Fountain and Byrne accepting pledges for the miles they will run, the Bettendorf Lil’ Dawgs softball team, of which Charly is a member, sold T-shirts and raised more than $1,000, which was split between the Erpeldings and the family of Alex Belk, who like Charly is a Hoover Elementary student and is battling cancer.
“The amount of love and support that has been sent our way in the last couple of months has just been absolutely amazing,” Erpelding said.
Byrne first ran the Leadville 100 in 2005 and finished just under the 30-hour time limit. Of the 468 people who began the race, only 45 percent were able to finish.
“I felt like I tried hard in 2005, but I just didn’t know what I was in for,” Byrne said.
Bryne said he felt he was in shape for the run in 2005, he but wasn’t prepared for the affect the mountain terrain and elevation would have on his body. The race starts at an elevation of 9,200 feet above sea level and climbs to 12,600 feet.
When he decided to run the race again this year, Byrne adjusted his training regimen to include running stairs to prepare his body for the climb up the mountain trail, and he and Fountain plan to go to Colorado two weeks before the race to give their bodies a chance to adjust to the change in elevation.
Byrne’s goal is to finish in less than 24 hours this year.
“I feel like I’m going into it with a lot more confidence just because I have a lot more work under my legs,” he said.
Byrne and Fountain met through their work at St. Ambrose University in Davenport. Byrne is a business professor, and Fountain is a part-time assistant football coach.
Fountain and Byrne have run together in the past to train for the Quad-City Times Bix 7, and when Byrne told him he was running the Leadville 100 again this year, Fountain said he decided to join him.
Fountain said he believes he will benefit from Byrne’s willingness to share what he learned from his previous experience with the Leadville 100.
“Every time we go out on a run, he has a different story to tell,” Fountain said. “He’s such a motivator.”