Health & Wellness

Runner With Multiple Sclerosis Inspires Others to Take Next Step

His example sets the pace for cross country run that inclues a friend who's running for him.

Physical therapist Lauren Wentz started running when she was 14 years old, and immediately fell in love with 'pounding the pavement' every day as she describes it. John Platt says "I've never met a run I didn't love," even though he's had to overcome mobility issues caused by his multiple sclerosis.

Lauren and John talk about how he's come back from walking with a cane to running marathons.

So when Lauren started working with John on his PT (they're both from the Pittsburgh area), it was no surprise to anyone that they became fast friends, bound by their love of running. That was cemented when John asked Lauren run the Boston Marathon with him as his guide.

Jon Franco hands off the baton to Lauren after his #HopeForHanna segment 16 run.

Now Lauren and a host of other runners are making their way across America, running for John and others like him in the annual MS Run the U.S . The event is a 19 segment ultra-relay run stretching 3,260 miles, beginning in early April in Santa Monica, CA and finishing in August in New York, NY. Selected runners, like Lauren, take on individual segments of about 160 miles, run over 6 consecutive days. They must also commit to raising at least $10,000 for MS.

Jon Franco got a hero's welcome in Ohio!

Right now Lauren is running segment 17. She picked up the baton over the weekend from Jon Franco, whose 170 mile segment 16 ended in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. Franco arrived to a cheering crowd, much like the one that greeted runners in Milwaukee earlier this month.

Runners have all kinds of reasons for participating in MS Run the U.S., like Ryan from Wisconsin whose mother, aunt and sister all suffered from MS.

"I wanted to bring hope for all those who are suffering with this awful disease as well as their families." Ryan, Segment 14 Runner

Runners are taking on everything from country roads, to mountains and deserts.

For Lauren, John Platt's inspiration will keep her going through the hills and valleys of Pennsylvania, to her finish line in Brookville, PA ( click here to see more pictures & videos from the relay ). Running with John in the Boston Marathon "helped me realize my purpose in life," Lauren writes on her MS Run the U.S. page . That purpose was to get a Masters degree in Adapted Physical Activity so she can create more adapted sports programming for individuals with disabilities.

"John has been a wonderful friend and a huge influence on my life." Lauren Wentz

John Platt has also influenced others through his personal story, going from walking with a cane to running not only the Boston Marathon, but multiple Pittsburgh Marathons and other races. He's also inspired with his advocacy, serving on the national board of MS Run the U.S. and local MS organizations.

You can support the National MS Society by clicking here to donate or to organize or particpate in an MS walk . And you can click here to help Lauren in her personal fundraising goal -- she's already reached the $10K mark but you can continue to put her over that!

Thanks to our awesome Sparkt Fan Rosanne Castronovo Robinson who brought this wonderful story to our attention! If you've got a great story, give us a heads up, or post it yourself here on Sparkt!

( Source for images and video: MS Run The US Facebook Page , John Platt instagram )

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