Four thousand miles. Forty-nine days. One goal. Runners with the 4k for Cancer program are finishing their long trek across the United States in Baltimore Saturday.
Stephanie Peditto says her daughter Kati Peditto, 22, loves to do different things and they always come as a surprise to her and her husband, like the time Kati entered Miss Maryland pageants to win scholarship money or the time she ran the Nike marathon.
"When she came home earlier this year and told us she was going to run across the country, we were again surprised, but we had no doubt in our mind that she could do it," said Peditto.
Kati is one of more than 25 runners, all young adults, taking part in the 4k for Cancer running event. They run 4,000 miles from San Francisco to Baltimore in 49 days. The event is organized by the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
Peditto says Kati's desire to run this year was two-fold. She wanted to run in honor of loved ones who have either died from cancer or have been diagnosed and survived. Kati is also supportive of BRCA testing, a gene that can be an indicator of whether a person may develop cancer. Kati got tested and does not have the gene.
"I’m thrilled that Ulman is focusing on this age group because Kati’s own experience of wanting and needing to be tested and thinking through the implications of that were very important."
The group makes stops along the way, to meet with cancer patients and survivors and see first-hand the research being done to find treatments and cures, thanks in part to funding from the Ulman Cancer Fund.
"We tell them that it's not just about running," said Brock Yetso, CEO and President of the Ulman Cancer Fund. "It’s about spreading awareness, driving change and raising dollars to support the programs."
Yetso says the runners must raise a minimum of $4,500 and the average runner raises $6,000. Yetso said he's excited to see the runners complete their journey on Saturday, when they run to the top of Federal Hill.
"We’re happy that it’s done and that they can start a new chapter of their involvement with our organization," he said.
Peditto has been following her daughter's progress on social media and says many of her family members will be there to cheer her on at the finish line.
"This experience of really coming together and celebrating individuals who have been impacted I’d say has been hugely transformative for all of them," Peditto said. "Kati choosing to run this summer for Ulman was the best surprise ever."
If you'd like to make a donation to the 4k for Cancer program or learn how you can participate, click here.