CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – “What did you do last weekend?” is a question Chappaqua resident Eric Gelber has quite the answer for – that is, if he has the energy to reply.
From 8 a.m. on Friday to 7:59 a.m. on Sunday, Gelber rap 27 loops around New York City's Central Park — or 164 miles — and raised $100,000 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF). It is the farthest the self-proclaimed “ultra marathoner” has ever run.
So what was his first thought when he finished?
“My mind was going a million miles an hour at that point — so much had happened,” Gelber said. “This was more than just a run and the amazing people of NYC knew that. So many people came out to support our efforts at all hours and we were able to raise more awareness and more money for the MMRF than I ever thought possible. First thought? I am a very lucky man.”
For most of the weekend, it looked as though Gelber’s goal of raising $100,000 would fall about short. But thanks to John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile and a board member for the New York Road Runners, that wasn't the case.
Legere made an initial donation of $5,000 on Saturday, and ran a loop with Gelber. However, late Saturday night, he checked in to see how the donations, and Gelber, were doing.
“Legere texted me to ask if Eric was still out there running just after midnight,” Alicia O’Neill, director of MMRF Endurance Events and Race Programs, said. “I told him that of course Eric was out there—he’s a driven determined guy. A few minutes later he texted me again asking to coordinate a meet up with him so he could tell him some important news in person.”
O’Neill said Legere showed up a few minutes later in a cab, soaking wet, and told Eric that he would personally make sure Gelber would reach his $100,000 goal by the time the race ended. Legere ended up donating $25,000 altogether.
“Buoyed with that great news, Eric headed out for the final eight hours of his run, and finished the 48-hour run covering 164 miles—his longest ever,” O’Neill said.
Gelber said he will hold on to that sequence of events for the rest of his life when thinking back on the weekend.
“There were many special moments throughout the weekend, but the most significant was when John Legere showed up in the pouring rain to make an extremely generous donation, assuring us that we would hit our $100,000 goal,” he said. “It was a huge emotional boost. John and I had never met before this weekend and I will never forget him.”
As for Gelber’s next run, he has not yet got that far.
“I think my next goal is to try and walk without limping,” he said.
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