Neither age nor cancer can slow down Don Wright, a 72-year-old running enthusiast from Lake Elmo, Minn., who plans to run his 75th marathon in Mankato this upcoming weekend.
When asked where his passion for running came from, Wright has a simple answer.
"Right now, it comes from the fact that I can," he stated.
Wright loves to run, and neither age nor his a deadly form of cancer will keep him from lacing up his sneakers.
"It's a wonderful way to celebrate life," he said.
On top of the marathons he completes, Wright runs at least 1,000 miles every year even though doctors practically gave him a death sentence a decade ago when they diagnosed him with myeloma, a blood cancer that can cause serious bone damage. At the time, Wright was told he'd be lucky to live five more years.
"As soon as I got the diagnosis, I wanted to run more marathons," Wright explained.
Rather than live in fear, Wright chose to focus his remaining time on a labor of love and set a goal to complete 100 marathons -- including events in all 50 states. Last December, he crossed the finish line in the final state on his list -- Hawaii. Looking back, he says his cancer drove him through the pain.
"It sometimes dos help to get angry, and it's easy to get angry at the damn cancer," Wright mused. "I imagine myself just poking it in the eye or kicking it down the road in front of me with every step."
In just a few days, Wright will hit the three-quarter milestone on his goal -- and he says he couldn't do it without the love and support of his family. With both of his parents living until they were 100, Wright insists he won't slow down until he gets there.
"I have no right to expect that, especially with this cancer. Nobody has the right to expect to live to 100, but that's my hope," he admitted. "That's what I am going for."
After Mankato, Wright will run in New York City, San Antonio and Memphis this year. If he keeps his current pace and his health remains strong, he figures he'll hit his 100-marathon milestone in three to four years.
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