Caleb Smith is 100 miles away from a goal he’s been planning for about a month. It’s a in-line skating challenge that will take him throughout the St. Louis area this Saturday.
“I’m going to be starting at 4:45 in the morning,” Smith said. “I project that it’ll take right around 10 hours.”
Smith is used to skating these 100-mile in-line skating courses, also known as "centuries." He’s completed many races for charitable causes in California, Georgia and Iowa. But this century is different; this one is dedicated to his cousin Shannon Donavan.
“I decided that if I was going to try something like this, I wanted to use the energy that I could create with this to focus on bigger projects and bigger pictures to help people beyond me just skating by myself,” Smith said.
One "bigger" project is a fundraiser to help fund his cousin's medical treatment and recovery. Now 30, Donavan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old. Complications from diabetes have affected other aspects of her health, including a bicuspid aortic valve which can disrupt the blood flow in and out of the heart. That blood flow ultimately puts more stress on the heart.
“A Lot To Go Through”
Before the valve could be repaired, Donavan needed a pancreatic transplant. She underwent surgery April 15 and received a new pancreas.
“Since then, I haven’t had to take any insulin shots,” Donavan said. “It’s a hard recovery. It’s a lot to go through but I know it's going to be worth it and my life is going to be better.”
Donavan’s next step is to undergo the surgery that will repair the valve in her heart, but right now, recovery and Smith’s fundraiser are at the top of her mind.
“I didn’t expect him to go all-out and do this for me,” Donavan said. “I knew I was going to be getting this transplant but it’s hard to do, and I’m going to be off work for two months.”
The century is being promoted through a GoFundMe campaign organized by Smith. He said he’ll be using Instagram and a live Google Maps link to track his progress throughout the day. Those following his journey can donate directly to his page. Smith’s goal is to raise at least $1,000 by the end of the weekend.
Smith is starting in Ferguson at his sister’s house. From there, he’ll skate through the Gateway Arch National Park, Forest Park and around south St. Louis. Smith will finish up by sunset, skating through the Arch grounds again and back through Forest Park.
Smith said he hopes to see other inline skaters join him along the way Saturday. It’s just one of many ways he wants to see people take part in his cousin’s journey.
“She’s just like my whole life,” Smith said. “She has a very optimistic way of looking at life, even when she’s facing these health struggles that a lot of people don’t even know about.”
Follow Chad on Twitter @iamcdavis.
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