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Recent civil engineering alumna runs across U.S. in support of cancer foundation

Marissa McDaid | Aug 16, 2019
Illona Hartman
Photos provided by Illona Hartman

Recent civil engineering alumna runs across U.S. in support of cancer foundation

Marissa McDaid | Aug 16, 2019

Photos provided by Illona Hartman

Before heading to graduate school in the fall, recent Russ College graduate and Ohio University Field Hockey player Illona Hartman, BSCE ’19, took a 4,000 mile detour.

On June 16, Hartman, a native of the Netherlands, started off on a 49-day, cross-country run from San Francisco to Baltimore to raise money and awareness for the Ulman Foundation, a non-profit that supports young adults affected by cancer.

Hartman was profoundly impacted by cancer in 2017, when her cousin’s 6-month-old baby Leighton Hailey van Leeuwen was diagnosed with a rare form of acute myeloid leukemia. Originally planning to complete her journey in June 2018, she was forced to postpone her participation after getting a concussion in March 2018. She began to take short jogs several times per week at the beginning of the year, and resumed training for the cross-country run upon graduating with her civil engineering degree in May.

According to Hartman, each morning along the journey, the team met in a dedication circle, where they shared their reason for running. In addition, the runners met many individuals who, upon learning about their cause, offered them food and beds in their own homes. Hartman and team reached Baltimore on August 3, where family and friends greeted her.

“Finishing brought a huge combination of overwhelming emotions,” Hartman said. “I was relieved I was able to run without any injuries, exhausted by the mental and physical burden we carried every day, sad to leave my team and the program after being a part of it for two years, and ecstatic to see my Dutch family at the finish line on Federal Hill.”

But when she initially began working toward the 4k for Cancer in October 2017, Hartman had felt intimidated – she had a minimum fundraising goal of $4,500 to meet.

“With the help of organizations at OHIO, and my friends and family at home, I was able to raise the minimum amount in less than three months,” she said. By spring 2018, she had reached almost $7,000 in donations.

With the run behind her, Hartman now hopes to raise a final few hundred dollars to reach her updated $10,000 goal before her fundraising page closes at the end of September.

Read more about Hartman’s cross-country adventure on her blog and support her Ulman Foundation fundraiser at this link.

Colleen Carow contributed to this story.