After finishing his work week Friday, Columbia resident Dan Frank laced up his sneakers and set out to run 24 hours straight to raise money to support coronavirus relief efforts.
Frank, 36, an avid runner and ultramarathoner, did not have a route in mind as he ran 102 miles from Friday evening to Saturday afternoon, stopping just a few hours shy of a full day.
Each mile meant more money for the Community Action Council of Howard County’s food bank. As of Tuesday, Frank had raised nearly $11,000 on his campaign page and with direct donations to the CAC. He planned to raise money through Wednesday.
“I thought I would raise $500,” said Frank, who only thought of the idea to run for donations about two weeks ago.
Throughout his run, Frank had bags of food and beverages at certain stops and even had friends track him and bring him extra snacks. Around 2 a.m. Saturday, Frank circled back home, where he took a short break and sat on his couch for a few minutes before heading back out.
Frank said that when the going got tough, he reminded himself that if he kept running and reached another mile, that would mean feeding another family as most of his donors pledged a certain amount per mile.
Community Action Council of Howard County President Bita Dayhoff said $50 provides five meals per person at the food bank.
“Imagine the impact of $11,000 for meals,” Dayhoff said.
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Since March 16, the food bank’s needs have tripled, with a major influx of families reaching out for food assistance, Dayhoff said.
On his 102-mile trek, Frank ran through Kings Contrivance in Columbia, Rockburn Park in Elkridge and around several of Columbia, including Lake Elkhorn, Wilde Lake and Lake Kittamaqundi in Columbia.
Throughout his run, even at 3 a.m., Frank was receiving text messages of encouragement from friends and family.
“I didn’t view it as a race; I viewed it as, ‘Here’s something we’re going to do to do some good,’ ” he said.
Dayhoff said she felt “humbled, with a deep sense of gratitude” for Frank’s willingness to step forward and support efforts against a major challenge like coronavirus.
“Individuals like Dan are true heroes who are stepping forward, not only raising awareness of the struggles of their neighbors and community but also taking measurable, impactful action to support families,” she said.