Running Through NH to Canada to Raise Support for United Way
Like many people during the COVID-19 pandemic, Matty Gregg and Brad Magyar wanted to do something to help.These two took ‘helping’ to a new level, making plans to spend a week during September running from the base of New Hampshire along the Massachusetts border, all the way to the Canadian border.
On September 7th, the duo embarked on the first leg of their journey, beginning in Nashua, New Hampshire, where Gregg and his wife, Alicia, live. Gregg, no stranger to long distance running – and long distance being defined as running across America – faced over 200 miles to the Canadian border with his good friend and running-mate, Brad Magyar.
“In doing research for COVID-19 and how communities are being impacted, I came across the efforts United Way has been doing to help. It's really tough out there for many people in New Hampshire, and this is about as good a cause as it gets.” Said Matty Gregg. “Being my home state, this was also a great opportunity to help out while learning more about the history and people that make it up.”
The pair logged over 217 miles during the 8-day trek to Canada. Their average daily runs were actual marathons, more than 26 miles!
For the most part, the weather conditions were ideal. It was helpful because the elevation changes made parts of the run quite challenging. For instance, one day the pair logged over 5,000 feet in elevation change.
More than $11,000 in donations will go to organizations across New Hampshire from their run. Some of those donations were made in creative ways, like the truck driver who threw $87 out the window at Matty, or the driver who tossed a water bottle filled with some cash and coins.
Granite United Way established a COVID-19 Relief Fund when the pandemic began, and they will be distributing funds they receive from the run to help support those who have been affected. The organization’s COVID-19 Relief Fund partnered with local nonprofits to develop hubs across the state and distributed over $850,000 in support meeting immediate needs like stocking the shelves of food pantries, providing online literacy tools for students as school pivoted to remote learning, their 211 NH call center serving as the statewide resource for COVID-19 information, and their Public Health Network and Emergency Preparedness teams partnering with local hospital to set up for potential surges.
“We have so many fond memories of the run it is difficult to pinpoint a favorite, but one near the top is the day we met United Way staff at Whole Village Family Resource Center in Plymouth. I was amazed by all of the different resources under one roof. I carried that with me along the road reminding myself of it when I was feeling tired.” Said Brad Magyar. “When we reached the Canadian border, as much as I didn’t want our run to stop, Matty has taught me that the end is part of the journey.”
Every runner has a support team, and Alicia Gregg played a critical role – coordinating breaks, meals, and providing genuine support as they kept pushing themselves. Alicia worked with Granite United Way staff throughout the journey, connecting staff and volunteers along their route so they could thank Matty and Brad in person. Patrick Tufts, President and CEO of Granite United Way and staff met up with them in Manchester, Whole Village Family Resource Center Director Sue Amburg gathered several nonprofits at the facility in Plymouth to cheer them on, and Laura Boucher, Northern New Hampshire Region Manager for Granite United Way, met up with them in Whitefield as they embarked on some of the most rural parts of the state.
“We were so honored to have both Matty and Brad running across our great state raising awareness for United Way and the work we are doing,” said Patrick Tufts, President and CEO of Granite United Way. “They are incredible athletes and dedicated to helping others. This pandemic has affected so many individuals and families, and its people like Matty and Brad that inspire us to keep going every day.”
For now Matty and Brad (and Alicia!) are enjoying a well deserved rest from long distance running, but we have a feeling they will be back at it before we know it!