Dennis Mayo always wanted to have his hand in the fight against cancer.
When he runs the New York City Marathon on Nov. 1, his legs will battle for him.
Mayo, a 2002 Perkins graduate living in Washington, D.C., submitted an online entry during the 2008 holiday season to join the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and was notified by e-mail in early June he would run through the Big Apple with Team LIVESTRONG.
There’s a catch: Mayo and the team of 250 runners from across the country have a goal of raising a combined $1 million, which will go toward funding cancer research, assisting cancer survivors and raising awareness of the disease.
Mayo’s individual contribution must be at least $3,500. And if he comes up short, he has to cover the difference.
“So far, I’ve called my family and friends and asked them,” Mayo said.
He’s also used social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to get his message out and get contributions in. He has raised $970 in the last month, and hopes the donations increase as the race approaches.
“I always tell people they can donate now or donate later,” Mayo said.
In a turbulent economy, Mayo said it can be difficult to generate contributions, but he isn’t deterred.
“If I ask 7,000 people and half of them gave me $1, then that’s $3,500,” Mayo said. “It’s a way of doing something that can benefit everybody.”
The statistics don’t lie, either.
Cancer causes 13 percent of all deaths, and according to the American Cancer Society, 7.6 million people died from the disease in 2007.
A graduate student at the University of Maryland in College Park, Mayo is a 2006 alumnus of The Ohio State University with a degree in chemistry. He is studying organic chemistry at Maryland and already has a job with the Department of Defense once he graduates.
Mayo intended to go into pharmaceuticals, but has put the mission on hold.
Oh his Livestrong fundraiser Web page, May wrote: “I thought... I would ultimately end up in the pharmaceutical industry. In doing so, I would have been able to fight cancer in the laboratory.
As my graduate career has progressed, I have been lucky enough to be awarded a DoD SMART Fellowship that not only funds my graduate school, but also gives me job placement with the government. While this is a great opportunity that I am extremely grateful for, I unfortunately will not be able to fight cancer in the lab for a long while. Luckily, I have found a way that I can work to fight cancer NOW.”
His first full marathon was Columbus in 2007, and he ran the Cleveland Marathon on May 17, finishing in 3 hours, 27 minutes to trim 20 minutes off his Columbus time. Mayo also ran a pair of half-marathons.
His goal for New York is 3:15 — an average of 7:26 a mile — which he hopes to achieve by running five days a week with one long run of 14-22 miles and four shorter runs of 3-10 miles.
His training calls for a total of 733 miles between June 1 and Nov. 1, and he updates his Twitter account with his run details.
Armstrong ran the NYC Marathon in 2006 and ’07, but may not run in November because the seven-time Tour de France champion returned to cycling with the intent of winning the Tour in July.
Those wanting to contribute to Mayo’s goal can do so online at the Web site. They also can download a form at the site and send in a donation.