Cause sends Tahoe Marathoners to Rome |

Cause sends Tahoe Marathoners to Rome

Steve Yingling

When in Rome this weekend, three South Shore marathoners will do what their hearts tell them.

For Linda Lou Williams, Marty Coffey and Mike Fedor, the 26.2-mile run/walk near the Colosseum, the Forum and Trevi Fountain on Sunday is the easy part. For the past five months the trio has raised more than $30,000 from sponsors for the American Diabetes Association to help find a cure diabetes and improve the lives of the 16 million Americans affected by the disease.

“If I can help one person I’ve made a difference,” said the 60-year-old Williams, who works as a host at Caesars Tahoe. “From what we earn, we can help make a living. From what we give, we can help make a life.”

Williams began her crusade against diabetes last year when her older brother, Bob, died from complications of the disease.

“This is my way of honoring him,” she said. “I knew I couldn’t save my brother, but I can help save somebody else’s brother.”

Williams and Coffey, who has conquered some of the toughest ultraruns the U.S. offers, started the crusade last October when they participated in the Dublin Ireland Marathon. They raised $23,500, including a $5,000 donation from Caesars.

“My goal was to raise $1,000 per mile,” Williams said. “To train for a marathon and raise money is a job in itself.

“When it touches your family and loved ones, then it touches your heart, and then you don’t want other people to suffer.”

She feels good that the money she raises is used regionally for patient and professional education seminars, camps for children with diabetes, advocacy programs, new research initiatives and free medical screenings. Also reassuring is that U.S. News and World Report lists ADA as one of the five most-efficient charities in the U.S.

Fedor is making his marathon debut, so Coffey and Williams have provided him with insight about mastering four- to five-hour exercise. Coffey has completed such zany runs as the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run and the 146-miler from Furnace Creek in Death Valley to Mount Whitney.

Williams, a speedwalker, completed several marathons two decades ago but then became an avid hiker and backpacker.

“Marty is the voice of experience. He rolls down his window when I’m training at Emerald Bay and tells me I’m running too fast,” Fedor said. “He’s been there to support me. He’s checked on me in snowstorms to make sure I get back OK.”

But Fedor isn’t hooked on the long-distance run.

“I’ve done half marathons before, but I’ve always told myself that I have to do a marathon,” Fedor said. “I’ll do this once and leave them to Marty.”

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