ST. MARYS — A 20-year-old St. Marys woman will be running across the country to raise awareness and funding for young adults with cancer.

Elizabeth “Ellie” Pearson, daughter of Tim and Bonnie Pearson, has always loved to run.

She is a 2015 graduate of Elk County Catholic High School, where she started running as a freshman, joining both track and field and cross country her sophomore year and continuing through her career.

She is currently a junior at Slippery Rock University, where she also runs track and cross country.

Now, she will be running cross country in a different way — traveling in vans from California to New York with a team of 25-30 strangers from across the country to benefit the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, a nonprofit organization which focuses on direct patient services.

She’ll officially hit the road running on May 17 in San Francisco, Calif. and will run for 49 days, finishing in New York City. Runners dash in two mile segments, running a total of eight to 16 miles every day. In total, the vans travel between 100-140 miles each day.

Along the way, the team also makes service stops at hospitals, visiting with young cancer patients and giving out scholarships.

She’s been sitting with the idea for some time now. She first heard of the program when her parish, St. Marys Catholic Church, started hosting biking teams through the organization. Talking to the travelers inspired her to take part. When she found out there were running teams — that sealed the deal.

To participate, runners must raise $4,500, which goes directly to the foundation to help young adults with cancer, and once they step off the team survives on “random acts of kindness,” being crewed by a team whose job is to find businesses to donate food and supplies to keep the team going.

Aside from fundraising, Pearson has also been putting in serious training time — doing cross training three times a week, one long run, and doing other workouts the rest of the days.

She seems unfazed by the physical hurdles that running the 49 days will bring, but said she is worried about leaving her new Dalmation puppy Thor.

“I like a challenge,” Pearson said. “And it’s a lot easier when you’re doing it for a purpose instead of just for yourself.”

She chose the cause because in 2016 she lost her aunt Mary Wendel to Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.

“She was my best friend,” Pearson said. “I want to do something to commemorate her, and if I’m going to do it I’d like to do something I love.”

To donate to Pearson’s fundraising campaign visit —

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