Constable: Swimmer finds a good reason to run 361 miles for kids with cancer

A standout swimmer during high school at Benet Academy in Lisle, Peter Krzywosz couldn't stomach the idea of running.

"I grew up hating running," Krzywosz remembers. "I was a swimmer. I couldn't even run a mile in grade school for the physical fitness test. I would fake sick, say I had a cramp, and pull every trick in the books so I didn't have to run. I was embarrassed that I could not complete one stinkin' mile. Even in high school, I'd rather swim two miles in a pool than have to run two miles on the track."

All he needed was some inspiration. In an effort to raise money for children with cancer, the 24-year-old Lisle man vowed to run 262 miles, the equivalent of 10 marathons, during the month of September. He ended up running 361 miles and raised $6,100 for the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

"Never in a million years did I figure I'd clock the miles I did," says Krzywosz, who adds that he was surprised at how well he handled the physical demands.

"The most difficult part was the time management," says Krzywosz, an assistant account manager for Becker's Health Care, where he works on business development and is a leader in charity efforts. Running 27 of the 30 days in September, Krzywosz says his shortest run was 3 miles in the morning, but he'd hit the road after work to rack up more miles. His longest run was 26.5 miles.

He ran his first marathon in April in Wisconsin, and finished in an impressive 3 hours and 48 minutes.

"That was the first time I did that distance, and the last couple miles were an absolute dogfight," Krzywosz says.

That struggle, while nowhere near as daunting, reminds Krzywosz of the courage, strength and endurance he sees from kids getting treatment for cancer. "It's never going to mirror what they do, but it gives me some sense of empathy," Krzywosz says. "These kids are the real heroes here."

Another hero to Krzywosz is the All-Pro quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. "I'm a Bears fan, but I respect Aaron Rodgers and what he does on and off the field," Krzywosz says. In 2014, Krzywosz, then a college student at the University of Dayton, was bingeing on YouTube videos when he stumbled across a video of Rodgers playing catch with Jack Bartosz, a young boy with cancer. That same day, an inspired Krzywosz organized a fundraising effort that raised more than $1,500 for kids with cancer.

"He has been a longtime supporter of Lurie Children's programs," Deanna Kerns, associate director of corporate partnership with the hospital, says of Krzywosz. He's met many of the children and their parents through his work with the Chicago Dance Marathon, an annual fundraiser for Lurie Children's. He dedicated his September "Endure-athon" to a trio of young patients - Matthew Erickson of Huntley; Adler Bear Carris, who lives in northern Indiana; and Mia Gurevitz of Deerfield, who died on Oct. 25, 2017.

"Mia was such an inspiration," Kerns says. "Her legacy continues by people who contribute to honor her through donations to Lurie Children's."

To contribute or find out more about Krzywosz's project, visit Krzywosz says he hopes other people are inspired to help.

Every donation makes a difference, says Kerns, noting the money Krzywosz raised can fund research, buy equipment or be used for programs that help families and children with pediatric cancer,

"It's always resonated and hit me what these children are battling," Krzywosz says. "It's just one of those things that hits home, and you want to do what you can to help."

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The physical toll of running 361 miles in one month paled compared to the effort it took to manage his time, says Peter Krzywosz. The 24-year-old Lisle man raised $6,100 for children with cancer through his Endure-athon fundraiser. Courtesy of Peter Krzywosz
A swimmer who hated running during his high school years at Benet Academy in Lisle, Peter Krzywosz says the desire to help children with cancer turned him into a runner. Last month he ran 361 miles in an effort to raise $6,100 for Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. Courtesy of Peter Krzywosz
Sharing a moment with cancer patient Mia Gurevitz, who died eight months after this 2017 charity event, gave Peter Krzywosz of Lisle the inspiration he needs to do charity work on behalf of children with cancer. Courtesy of Peter Krzywosz
Celebrating the end of another successful long-distance run, Peter Krzywosz raises his arms in triumph. The 24-year-old Lisle resident wanted to do something "outside the box" to help kids with cancer, so he raised $6,100 by running 361 miles during September. Courtesy of Peter Krzywosz
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