A west suburban Chicago man has completed a lofty goal of running a marathon in all 50 states.
On Saturday, Kevin Ely of Geneva, Illinois, ran the 34th annual Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, Michigan, the final state in his quest.
Ely initially set the goal of running 50 marathons in 50 states as a personal milestone. He had already checked 13 states off the list when he attended an expo in California, where he learned about the Free Wheelchair Mission, a nonprofit that offers cost-effective wheelchairs to people with disabilities.
"I thought, 'I need to turn this from being a selfish thing for me and what I could accomplish for myself,'" he said. "At the end, nobody would have really cared. It was a realization that I needed to do something to make an impact."
As the father of a 7-year-old with cerebral palsy, his understanding of the importance of mobility, the cost to provide methods of movement, and the fact that millions of people around the world don't have access to those methods eventually led him to a fundraising mission: Marathons for Mobility.
Ely originally set a fundraising goal of $42,000 to be donated to the Free Wheelchair Mission. But by Saturday, he had exceeded that goal, raising $45,461, which will provide 583 wheelchairs.
Since setting the summer 2016 completion date more than two years ago, Ely has averaged one marathon every three or four weeks, and he plans to hang up his running shoes and never run again after Saturday's race.
"I've lost quite a few weekends with my family. It's one of the things I want to get back when I stop running," Ely said. "As patient and supportive as they've been, it's time to give my time and support back to them."
As for his time? Ely said he ran his final marathon in 3:57:29.