Kelli McDonald was in 8th grade when her mom began waking up in excruciating pain. Pain that was ultimately diagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis. Over the years she has watched her mom's health deteriorate, and along with it, her own determination grow, to do something about it.
For the last five years, her feet have carried her hundreds of miles; one foot in front of the other, to fight the disease that robbed her mom of her own ability to run.
"When I was younger, I don't think I got it", says McDonald, who lives in the Plainfield/Joliet area. "I do now, especially with my own kids. I can see the things I can do with them and even with her grandchildren, as much as she wants to run around with them--she can't."
So when a friend asked McDonald if she would run to raise money for M.S. research and a cure, she knew she was in. Only this wasn't any 5K. This was a five day, 152 mile run that would go from Davenport, Iowa to Joliet, Illinois.
"I had to mentally convince myself that I could do this", McDonald recalls.
Somewhere along that quiet road, something kicked in. She says she remembered why she was running. It was for her mom and every one of the 400,000 people affected by M. in the U.S.
The miles didn't come easy, battling sweltering heat and cornfields for miles. Only to get up the next morning and do it all again. 30 miles every day for five days straight. The distance pushing her body to it's limits.
"The first year the fibular head on my right knee popped out. The next year was when my IT band tightened up and last year, I was hurt again with my shin swelling up," McDonald says.
All pain she was willing to bear to fight for those who couldn't.
"My pain will go", says McDonald. "It will be gone. My mom lives in pain every single day."
In four years, McDonald raised over $40, 000 in donations for the miles she put in. All of it going directly to research, new medications and medical equipment for the hundreds of thousands living with MS.
And she's now training once again for the journey this July. She's not sure how long her body will tolerate the distance but as long as it does, McDonald says she'll keep on running with her mom in her heart.
"She did the absolute best that she could and I'm blessed that she's a fighter and she instilled so much in me to keep going and keep fighting. So this is seriously the least that I can do for her and everybody else that has this disease."
If you want more information about MS Run the U.S or to support McDonald, click here: