By DAVID BORAKS
Last year’s grueling 24-hour run around the Village Green wasn’t enough: Jeff McGonnell is coming back for more. And this year, he has harangued a gang of fellow runners to take shifts with him at “Loopy for a Cause: The Sequel” this Friday and Saturday. It’s a fund-raiser for research on Batten’s disease, a rare, fatal brain disease that affects children.
You’ll probably see all the activity on the Green if you pass by this weekend. This year’s event has a few changes. It’s starting on Friday, instead of Saturday, and the entertainment has been expanded. In addition to lots of live local music organized by The Birdsnest, they’ll show an outdoor movie on the Green Friday night: “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”
Oh, and Mr. McGonnell jokes, you’ll get to watch him and his buddies circling and circling and circling the Green all night and day. Last year, he ran 85 miles in 24 hours.
It’s called “loopy” because of the repeated loops around the Green, and, to be honest, because it’s a bit of a loopy idea.
Runners are taking 2-hour shifts, and inviting their friends to come watch and donate to the Batten’s Disease Research and Support Association. They’ve even got some incentives to get you to pony up: Mr. McGonnell and guest runners will don a variety of goofy getups – from floppy hats and wigs to dresses and capes – in exchange for cash.
Long runs are a passion for ultra-marathoner McGonnell, who lives in the McConnell neighborhood. But so is this cause.
He began raising money for Batten’s Disease Research after learning about Brandon and Jeremy Hawkins of Concord, friends of his son’s who were diagnosed with the rare disease in 2006. About 600 children in the U.S. are affected. It starts with minor symptoms such as slow learning and clumsiness and eventually causes mental impairment, seizures and blindness. (The Hawkins boys are now blind, Mr. McGonnell said Thursday.) There’s currently no cure and the disease is fatal.
The boys’ father, Chris Hawkins, leads Mr. McGonnell’s support crew for the 24-hour run and writes a blog about the boys.
You can join in by stopping by the Green between 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday night. Make a donation, cheer on the runners, listen to the music. It’s a worthy cause, and an astounding commitment by one of our neighbors.
Batten’s Disease Research and Support Association, BDSRA.org – you can donate online there as well.
Loopy for a Cause schedule and other info, loopy4acause.blogspot.com
Our Boys Journey, the Hawkins family blog, about Brandon and Jeremy.
June 4, 2011, “What a feat: 24 hours around the Village Green”.
LOOPY FOR A CAUSE SCHEDULE
FRIDAY, JUNE 1
- 6 p.m. – 24 hours of Running begins,
- 7:30 p.m. – Movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
SATURDAY, JUNE 2
- Running continues –
- 11:00AM – Live music begins, featuring Billy Jones and the Pocket, Sunday Union, Chas Willimon and many more.
- 6 p.m. – The run finishes, music continues till 8 p.m.