Ithaca resident Christopher LaVallee plans to go the distance to support cancer research — 155 miles through Australia on foot.
From April 25 to May 1 LaVallee will embark on a boundary-pushing race through the Australian outback to raise $20,000 for the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes. He will be one of 200 competitors. The event is part of Racing The Planet, an organization that sponsors treks through difficult terrains in places like Africa and Antarctica.
Though fundraising is not required for the event, LaVallee along with Anthony Guarneri and Herb Dwyer, his friends and employers, of ASI Renovations, an environmentally conscious construction and remodeling company, have committed to raise the money.
LaVallee’s fundraising for CRCFL is in part because of his father, who recently recovered from cancer in January, LaVallee said. ASI Renovations is helping him fundraise because co-owners Guarneri and Dwyer also have fathers who survived cancer.
Shawn Galbreath, executive director of CRCFL, said the organization is supported solely through private donations and the $20,000 goal will be a comparatively large donation. The CRCFL provides support services for individuals with cancer as well as their families.
“We’re thrilled that they’re doing this,” she said. “We’re very reliant on individuals like these guys doing events for us in order to keep the services continually available to the community.”
Fundraising will be through donations to CRCFL Web site, as well as an event that will be held in April. According to the CRCFL Web site as of Monday, LaVallee has raised $1,075 so far in donations.
LaVallee first read about the race online last May and decided to pursue it for charity. The expedition will be a true test of endurance and self-discipline as participants will travel through steep mountain ranges and vast plains of Kimberley — the hottest region in Australia. Competitors must carry supplies during the day to camps each night.
“Here in Ithaca [I train] in the 20s and 30s and sometimes the teens now,” he said. “[I’ll need] to get ready for 95-degree heat.”
To prepare for the challenge of carrying a pack, LaVallee has tailored his training regimen.
“I’m going to have 20-25 pounds on my back,” he said “I’m just trying to lighten up the back, maybe train myself not to need so much water.”
A typical training week includes a long run on Saturday for 3 to 5 hours; shorter runs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; free-weight lifting on Monday; and on Sunday he trains with the all the equipment that will be used in the race. He fits this into his 40-hour workweek that he puts in at ASI Renovations.
Dwyer, who met LaVallee in the Marine Corps, said LaVallee has always been dedicated as a carpenter and competitor.
“When he sets his mind on something he goes after it 110 percent,” he said.
Guarneri said the company is glad to sponsor LaVallee for this cause.
“We’re all very proud that Christopher is able to do this and be dedicated to the cause, and that he wanted to work with us, and [that] the [CRCFL] also wanted to work with us,” he said.
LaVallee said that he wants to help those in need through activities like this race because he has the abilities and resources.
“We’re young able-bodied people, and we want to do as much as we possibly can until we can’t do anything anymore,” he said.
For more information or to donate, visit www.rtpforcrcfl.kintera.org or call 277-0960.