Christian McEvoy runs to raise cancer awareness

Katie Roth

Most people have heard the saying “Judge not lest ye be judged” – or better yet – “don’t judge another until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” One can never know the extent of a person’s experiences, unless he or she has gone through the trials and tribulations first hand. Christian McEvoy is doing just that for the 10 million cancer survivors across the United States.

McEvoy has taken on the daunting task of running 3,500 miles across the United States in order to raise awareness, as well as much-needed money, for cancer survivorship centers. Having started on July 1 in San Francisco, Ca., McEvoy has run over 1,200 miles and, as of press time will, be in Kremmling, Col. The run is expected to finish in December 2006, with the team ending up in Narragansett, R.I.

A 2004 graduate of Fairfield University, McEvoy spent his four years balancing academics and athletics. As a member of the swim team, he was one of the most competitive athletes in the conference. After graduating with an English major with a specialty in creative writing, McEvoy joined the faculty of Fairfield Preparatory School in Fairfield, Conn.

“Teaching seemed like the obvious choice because I enjoyed working with kids. The movie ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ had a great effect on that decision, as well,” McEvoy said.

He was an avid participant in every aspect of the school. While teaching freshman- and senior-level English classes, he coached the cross country and swimming teams.

McEvoy also involved himself in the school’s service development and spiritual programs.

McEvoy first began competing in triathalons in college. When he was 19, he completed his first half-Ironman race, which includes periods of running, biking and swimming.

McEvoy attributes the creation of “Coast to Coast: A Run for Survivorship” to two separate people.

“In April 2005, a good friend’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. From there, I got interested in the issues that cancer survivors faced and how I could help,” McEvoy said.

McEvoy was also inspired by Jeff Keith. In 1985, Keith did his own run across the United States. He completed the run and successfully raised more than $2 million along the way. Keith was also the recipient of The Courage Award from President Ronald Reagan. Keith still raises money for cancer survivors today as the founder of the Connecticut Challenge, a bike ride that benefits the cause. McEvoy volunteered with the organization in the summer of 2005 and met Keith, who is now one of McEvoy’s good friends.

The Coast to Coast run was born soon after that summer. The run’s main goal is to make the public aware that cancer is a long-term, chronic illness that requires a great deal of funds to support continual research and treatment programs that support cancer survivors as well as their families. Cancer survivorship, according to the American Cancer Society, is the experience of living with, through and beyond the diagnosis of cancer. The primary beneficiary of McEvoy’s run will be the Yale Cancer Center, a designated comprehensive cancer center for over 30 years. The Yale Cancer Center is one of only 39 centers in the United States and the only comprehensive center in southern New England.

With McEvoy running the 3,500 miles, it was necessary to develop a support team that would aid him in accomplishing the goal of the Coast to Coast run. Matthew Pierson, Leslie Estelle and Kristen Coleman are undoubtedly the backbones to McEvoy’s project as they assist with all aspects of the organization, save for the running. Pierson is the operations coordinator, in charge of planning the route and events, as well as managing the fundraising. Estelle is responsible for coordinating the press, and Coleman is in charge of coordinating all the other technological aspects of the organization, including the website. Both women are also responsible for filming the experience and making it into a documentary.

Although McEvoy is dedicated to this cause, he does not feel as if he is a hero for cancer survivors.

“I’m not a hero at all. I’m only doing what I can. If anything, the survivors are my heroes and they continually give me hope.”

You can track McEvoy’s progress across the United States and donate to the cause at

“If there’s any message that you take away from my experience, it’s follow your dream and make it for someone else,” McEvoy said.