Former Rim Country Middle School teacher Carrie Mitchell has been a recreational long-distance runner for about nine years.
"Running is something that has always been a pleasure for me, that helps keep me in shape and relieves stress," she said. Mitchell now lives in Flagstaff and teaches seventh grade science at a middle school there.
About four months ago, while surfing the Internet, Mitchell stumbled upon a cause that has brought new meaning and purpose to her running.
She learned the Leukemia Society of America's Team In Training (TNT) was searching for people willing to run a marathon.
"By running a marathon and raising money for the Leukemia Society, I can help find a cure for the disease and fulfill my lifelong dream (to run a marathon). Can there be a better reason to run," she asked.
After deciding to participate in the project, Mitchell selected three honor patients to dedicate her marathon efforts to. They are Jacob Farr, 3; Haley Knutsen, 3; and Charlotte Dutton, 10.
"They need my help in their fight against this terrible disease," Mitchell said. "As one who has devoted my life to children through the teaching profession, this is a challenge that really excites me."
As a member of the Team-In-Training, Mitchell will run the 26.2-mile Honolulu, Hawaii Marathon Dec. 12, 1999.
Before she competes, through, Mitchell is making sure she will be prepared for her first try at a marathon by undergoing a rigorous training program.
Daily runs are at distances much shorter than the marathon but on Sundays, usually early in the morning, she has the time to complete 20-plus miles.
During the final month of her training, she plans to up her efforts to the 26-mile distances.
Training in the 6,000-feet plus altitudes of Flagstaff, she says, "should be a big help in running at sea level, but finishing will be the most physically challenging event in my lifetime."
In joining the Team-In-Training, Mitchell promised to raise $3,800 for Farr, Knutsen, Dutton and the Leukemia Society. She's currently seeking sponsorship pledges, either by the mile or by the event.
"It is my choice to train hard and run this race," she said. "Leukemia patients were put in a race unexpectedly, one for which none of us could ever be sufficiently prepared. Running a marathon seems so small a feat in comparison to the challenge of those affected by leukemia.
"I can't do this all alone and I need your help. I am asking for your sponsorship. All donations are completely tax deductible and are greatly appreciated."
She says 90 percent of the money she raises will go to financial assistance to individuals battling the disease, research and education.
Donor forms are available at the Payson Roundup. Call Mitchell at (520) 774-8339 for more information.