For nearly two decades, Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn. has held a passion fundraiser in support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's mission. Not only does it recruit students and the surrounding community to participate in the annual Great Strides walk, the Foundation's signature national fundraising event, but also it holds a 65 Roses 5K race.
This spring, Lee University and those who turned out to support its passion fundraiser and Great Strides, reached an unprecedented level of giving. Thanks to its efforts over the years and this spring's passion fundraising event, it has cumulatively raised over $1 million in the fight against CF.
The university was thrilled that Meb Keflezighi, America's greatest long-distance runner joined forces with the university and ran with them in the 5K. Keflezighi is the only athlete in history to have won the New York Marathon, the Boston Marathon, and an Olympic medal. He has also been part of four NCAA championships, 23 national championships, and four United States Olympic teams.
“Lee University has been a remarkable supporter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation over the last 18 years,” said Keflezighi. “I am proud of the work they have done and am honored to have been part of the 2018 Great Strides weekend.”
Keflezighi is not only a star runner, but he is deeply committed to helping others. As a refugee from war-torn East Africa, he believes deeply in 'going the distance' and encourages people of all ages to reach for new heights in all areas of their lives -- professionally, spiritually, and personally. His participation in Lee University's race demonstrates his compassion and desire to give back.
“I had heard great things about the community in Cleveland, Tenn., and I was thrilled to be there this year and encourage those in Cleveland and the surrounding areas to keep up the great work and raise the next million dollars,” he said.
Both the Lee University Great Strides walk in Cleveland, Tenn. and the university's 65 Roses 5K have been made possible year after year by the continued dedication of three exceptional individuals: Vanessa Hammond and Mike Hayes, who have served as Great Strides walk co-chairs, and Bill Estes, who has chaired the 65 Roses 5K. Hammond is the mother of a child with CF and Lee University's director of grants and foundation relations, and Hayes is vice president of student development. Estes is dean of the Helen DeVos College of Education at Lee University.