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Faces of Prostate Cancer

Peter Ripmaster

The 50 Marathon Man Tackles Breast and Prostate Cancer—Reaches Fundraising Goal

With no training or practice, Peter Ripmaster set out to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a local running trail in his community, and ran 26.2 miles - an independent marathon. “It was completely impromptu,” Ripmaster says. This impromptu run was the beginning of a commitment to running 50 marathons over the course of three years. Though he still has five marathons left to run, Peter already reached his $50,000 fundraising goal for cancer research.

Peter's sudden urge to run came several years after his mother Hilary’s passing from breast cancer in 2000. The four-year battle “shook Peter to the core,” but he promised his dying mother that he would find a way to make breast cancer a thing of the past. After running 22 marathons for Susan G. Komen Marathon for a Cure and exceeding his fundraising goal of $25,000 by $3,000, another family member’s diagnosis shifted Peter’s strategy to run 50 marathons across the United States.

In 2010, Chris, Peter’s father, was re-diagnosed with prostate cancer after spending seven years in remission.

“I am not running for myself, I am doing it for something bigger. Otherwise, I would be at home with my family enjoying the many other hobbies I have. This takes up most of my time, money and energy, but I am more than willing to do it to advance the field of cancer research.”

“In the moment of his diagnosis, my father became very sad and depressed, and I knew I needed to shift gears. Every marathon I raced in, I saw pink ribbons and wristbands for breast cancer awareness. I think that is great, but there also has to be a voice for the dads and granddads who are dealing with this disease,” Peter said. “Men are not as vocal and tend to be more private, but prostate cancer affects more men than breast cancer does women, and something has to be done to get the word out about early detection, awareness and education.”

Seeing the void of blue awareness, Ripmaster partnered with Athletes for a Cure, the athletic fundraising program of PCF, and set a fundraising goal of $22,000 and an endurance goal to complete 28 remaining marathons over the course of three years—resulting in 50 marathons and a combined $50,000 raised for breast and prostate cancer research.

When Peter began this journey, he was a full-time Special Education teacher, and new father. Now, the father of three and owner of Black Mountain Running Co. has more than enough experience financing and scheduling the countless marathons. All costs including travel, food, hotel stays and race registrations are paid by Peter and his wife Kristen, to ensure all fundraised dollars go directly toward the cure. “Running is the easy part; the real nightmare is the logistics.”

Another hurdle is letting go of the cultural pressures created by marathon enthusiasts. Ripmaster gave up caring what number marathon he was on, what time he finished in, and whether he could push himself faster or further.

“I am not running for myself, I am doing it for something bigger. Otherwise, I would be at home with my family enjoying the many other hobbies I have. This takes up most of my time, money and energy, but I am more than willing to do it to advance the field of cancer research.”

With the five marathons remaining, Peter will more than likely surpass his fundraising goal, bringing more dollars and awareness to the cause—a goal that has made a tremendous impact. However, his eyes are already looking toward the next prostate cancer fundraiser. “I will finish these 50 marathons, no matter what happens to me, but it won’t mean that I am done with the adventure or fundraising. In fact, I think it is just the beginning of what I am capable of.”

To follow Peter’s marathon trail, or to donate to the cause, please visit www.ripmaster50.com.

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