Runner Seeks to Educate Public and Raise Money
NEW YORK (AP) _ A playwright plans to leave Saturday on the first leg of a 10,000-mile, 1 1/2 -year run to raise awareness and money to combat AIDS, which he said had killed seven of his friends in the last year.
″I’m hoping to make people wake up and see that when anyone’s life is threatened, it should be everyone’s concern,″ Brent Nicholson Earle, 35, said Friday as he finished packing. He said he does not have AIDS.
Earle acknowledges that some people may not welcome a crusade against acquired immune deficiency syndrome, an affliction in which the body’s immune system becomes unable to resist disease. AIDS, caused by a virus, was first identified in male homosexuals, hemophiliacs and intravenous drug abusers.
As of Feb. 10, AIDS had struck 17,361 people in the United States and claimed 9,112 lives.
″We hope to break through barriers in people’s thinking,″ he said. ″If there’s one thing they respect, it’s athletic achievement.″
His run will roughly follow the outline of the United States, with a few hops into Canada. He hopes to raise $10 million.
″If someone pledges even a penny a mile, that’ll be $100,″ he said. The first pledge was 10 cents a mile from Broadway actor Swen Swenson.
Earle first ran competitively in 1984, and trained for the cross-country run by participating in six marathons last year. He finished in the top fifth in each, he said.
Thinking of the cross-Canada run of Terry Fox, the one-legged cancer victim, Earle quit his job with an antiques dealer in January 1985 and used his savings to travel around the country to organize his AIDS effort.
The result was the American Run for the End of AIDS, which has raised money to support the run and provided Earle with a living allowance.
His mother, Marion Nicholson, 70, will drive the donated motor home that will follow Earle. His father died of cancer about six years ago.
He has lived in New York for 17 years, working as an actor and playwright. His work has been produced outside of New York, he said.
Planning to run 18 to 20 miles a day, Earle will run most of the northern leg across the upper United States in warm weather, with a target of getting over the Rockies by late summer and reaching the Pacific Northwest in early autumn.
He then plans to run down the Pacific Coast, reaching Los Angeles around Christmas and continue south to San Diego. He hopes to get through the desert before March 1987 and complete the southern leg across the Southwest and Dixie in Miami in mid-July. The final leg will be north along the Atlantic Coast, finishing back in New York in early October 1987.