- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2016

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - An Illinois man is set to complete his goal of running a marathon in all 50 states after he makes it across the finish line at a 26-mile race in Michigan.

Kevin Ely of Batavia, Illinois, will run Saturday in the 34th annual Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, the Traverse City Record-Eagle (https://bit.ly/1sMX5xE ) reported.

Ely initially began his quest to run 50 marathons in 50 states as a personal goal. He had already checked 13 states off the list when he attended an expo in California, where he learned about the Free Wheelchair Mission, a nonprofit that offers cost-effective wheel chairs to people with disabilities.

“I thought, ‘I need to turn this from being a selfish thing for me and what I could accomplish for myself,’” he said. “At the end, nobody would have really cared. It was a realization that I needed to do something to make an impact.”

As the father of a 7-year-old with cerebral palsy, his understanding of the importance of mobility, the cost to provide methods of movement, and the fact that millions of people around the world don’t have access to those methods eventually led him to a fundraising mission: Marathons for Mobility.

Ely already has met his goal of raising more than $40,000 for 550 wheelchairs to be donated through the Free Wheelchair Mission. But he will continue taking donations through the Bayshore Marathon in an effort to help as many people as he can.

“To know the true mission is already accomplished, I could fall down halfway through this marathon and feel like I accomplished everything I needed to accomplish,” Ely said. “But I’ll do my best not to let that happen.”

Since setting the summer 2016 completion date more than two years ago, Ely has averaged one marathon every three or four weeks, and he plans to hang up his running shoes and never run again after his 50th race.

“I’ve lost quite a few weekends with my family. It’s one of the things I want to get back when I stop running,” Ely said. “As patient and supportive as they’ve been, it’s time to give my time and support back to them.”

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Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, https://www.record-eagle.com

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