On a quest for better health, Paul “PK” Klenowski promised himself that he would walk or hike at least one mile every day, no matter what. That was 10 years and 17,000 miles ago, and he hasn’t missed a single day. Most importantly, Klenowski’s fitness journey has evolved into something much greater – a mission to end children’s cancer.
His inspiration came when he met the daughter of a family friend, a little girl named Riley who was stoically battling medulablastoma. “I saw the effects of the chemo on her body. Her head was bald and she had a feeding tube, yet she didn’t complain. I knew then that I wanted to hike in honor of Riley,” PK shared.
As luck would have it, PK saw a poster for the CureSearch Ultimate Hike at a local REI store in 2018. The criminologist and college professor vetted CureSearch and then committed to the hike.
“There were just five weeks left before the hike and I had never asked anyone for money before. I started sending text messages and making phone calls. I was overwhelmed that so many people offered prayers and asked how else they could help. My goal was to raise $2,500, which seemed like a stretch at the time, but I ended up raising $5,000!” said PK. When he saw Riley’s photo displayed at the 19 mile-mark of the hike, PK knew his Ultimate Hike adventure was just beginning. In addition to participating in the 2021 Shenandoah Ultimate Hike in May, PK is taking on an exciting new challenge this year. On March 12, in Riley’s honor, he will take on the Conquer the Wall Endurance Challenge, a 100-mile run in 35 hours. His goal is to raise at least $10,000 for CureSearch.
The funds raised through these hikes directly support critical research that’s on the path to quickly becoming a drug accessible to the children who are waiting for new treatment options, and provides innovative platforms that allow stakeholders to work smarter, faster, and more collaboratively. “It’s research that will bring us innovative, new types of treatments that are less harmful and less invasive. The ultimate goal is to find the cures. I was very disturbed when I learned the statistics of how little we do as a nation for pediatric cancer. That’s why raising money for CureSearch is so important,” said PK.
“Thankfully, Riley is a teenager in remission now, but she is dealing with effects from her cancer battle. Through CureSearch events, I have come to know other children with cancer, those who have survived and the families of kids who didn’t make it,” said PK. “At the beginning of each lap that I run in the Endurance Challenge, my nephew will hand me a photo of a child whose life has been impacted by cancer. And I will dedicate that lap to them.”
As an ultra-runner, PK views 35 hours as a small sacrifice to help kids who often suffer for years. “I’m glad that I can do something to fund research for children’s cancer. I do it for the 45 kids diagnosed with cancer every day, their families and the doctors.”
Supporters can join PK on his fundraising page. You can pledge to sponsor a lap and watch his progress live on the CureSearch Facebook page, beginning 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 12, continuing through Sunday morning.
CureSearch for Children’s Cancer works to end childhood cancer by driving targeted and innovative research with measurable results in an accelerated time frame. CureSearch focuses on advancing the strongest research out of the laboratory and into clinical trials and development, where better, less-toxic treatments can quickly help children.
About Ultimate Hike
CureSearch’s Ultimate Hike program gives people the opportunity to tell children’s cancer to “take a hike” by trekking 20-30 miles in one day on some of the country’s most beautiful trails. To date, Ultimate Hikers have raised over $6 Million in support of CureSearch’s mission to end childhood cancer.
The training program ensures participants of all fitness levels will be prepared for their Ultimate Hike adventure. Train with a group in an official training cities, or train from anywhere with online support from a coach and teammates. An Ultimate Hike event weekend includes lodging, food, transportation, trail support … and a life-changing experience. CureSearch staff provide fundraising tools and guidance to ensure you reach your goals and help change the odds for children with cancer. Learn more at ultimatehike.org or join the conversation at facebook.com/ultimatehike