Look What You've Started

Going the Distance for Big Brothers Big Sisters

Tony Anderson knows, perhaps better than many, the difficulty and struggle associated with growing up without a strong male mentor figure in their lives. Tony’s father died in a car accident before Tony reached the age of two, leaving him and his older siblings to be raised by their mother. During his life, Tony had a number of people along the way who tried to show him guidance. But none could fill the void left behind by an absent father-figure – a strong and enduring mentor.

Tony now has a wife and children, with even a grandkid or two. Working as a general manager for an electric cooperative in Mich., Tony felt the time was right to give back to his community. With a mind toward helping to ensure that children who need a mentor figure present in their lives can have one, Tony started his relationship with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan as a board member in 2005.

Recognizing that a significant portion of his role as a board member involved fundraising, Tony chose to draw on his hobby as a runner to raise money by creating Marathon4Kids, an organization that creates various running events and pledge drives in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan.

In concert with the organization, Tony maintains his personal goal to raise money by running 50 marathons in 50 states. Just recently, he successfully completed his 28thmarathon, and plans to run the Deadwood Mickelson Trail Marathon in South Dakota on June 1. Tony has a schedule set that should see him complete his goal in May 2020, with a final marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Recently, Marathon4Kids added a new element to fundraising efforts called the “Buck a Mile” club, where supporters commit to contributing $26.20 after each successive marathon Tony completes. To-date, Tony estimates that he has raised more than $90,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan.

Tony maintains a blog on Marathon4Kids.com where he makes regular posts following each completed marathon. With just a little over half his goal behind him, running marathons continues to take its toll on Tony, mentally and physically.

“Is it worth it?” he asks in a recent blog post titled “Checking Boxes.” “…aching body, tired mind, another marathon and a little more awareness for kids finding their own direction – is it worth it? Check that box – yes. Yes it is.”

Some local media coverage:
"Going the Distance: Marathon 4 Kids" by Diana Fairbanks (UpNorthLive.com)
"Marathon Runner Raising Money for Big Brothers Big Sisters" by Katelyn Boomgaard (9 and 10 News)

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