Local marathoner makes strides for research into blood cancers

PHOTO PROVIDED Ronald Frick, second from the left in the third row, stands with a group of his teammates from Team in Training, part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that participates in charitable races to raise money for blood cancer research.

The human body can do amazing things when it has a goal in mind. As a marathon runner who isn’t interested in running, Ronald Frick, of Loyalsock Township, can attest to as much.

“I wouldn’t even consider myself a casual runner,” chuckled Frick, who also is the president of the Lycoming County United Way.

But Frick does it anyway, because he has goals in mind.

Frick runs as a member of Team in Training, a “family” that runs to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Since he first started running marathons and half marathons with the team in 2013, he said he has raised nearly $52,000 toward blood cancer research.

Frick started running in 2013 after losing his “second father,” Stephen Frederick, who was his band director at North Penn High School in Lansdale. Frederick battled leukemia for four years, then was diagnosed with and succumbed to lymphoma shortly afterward, Frick said.

Later that year, he called Frederick’s wife to say that he’d like to honor Frederick’s memory by raising money in the Philadelphia Half Marathon, but wasn’t sure which organization to support. She responded that Frederick enjoyed Light the Night, another part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Through them, Frick found Team in Training and got to work.

Through Team in Training, Frick has training and fundraising coaches who encourage him up to and throughout race day. However, in order to participate, not only did he have to train, he also had to raise a minimum of $1,300 prior to the race.

But Frick went above and beyond, raising nearly $6,300 in about 60 days for that first event.

“I love to raise money for things I am passionate about and I was not about to let Steve down, but I had never run more than 6.2 miles prior to 2013,” Frick said, adding that a half marathon equals about 13 miles. “All of a sudden, I was kind of hooked.”

Since then, Frick has participated in many runs for charity, including the recent Williamsport Half Marathon hosted by the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, which acted as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon and raised money for both the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and Project Bald Eagle.

These days, Frick is preparing to run in the next Philadelphia Half Marathon, slated for Nov. 19. This time, he has to raise about $1,600 to participate — on top of paying for his own hotel and registration, he added.

“Nobody ever believes it, but all that money really is going to research,” he said.

Between the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society work he’s done and the local fundraising events he’s participated in, Frick has met and befriended many people fighting cancer, and he honors them on the back of the jersey he wears in his races.

“All of these people are connected … It’s very rewarding,” Frick said. “We live in such a caring, generous community. You don’t have to go far to find people who care about your health, who care about your well being.”