Students save lives one mile at a time


It’s Saturday, and juniors Bailey Berberich, Carley Chana, and Heather DeBoer, are prepping for a long run. Berberich and DeBoer strap on their fanny packs in the early morning hours, and Chana straps on her reflector vest in the late night hours. After grabbing their phone and headphones on their way out the door, the girls are ready to train.

Berberich, Chana, and DeBoer are training for the Chicago Marathon that is set to take place Oct. 13.The marathon involves running 26.2 miles and attracts thousands of people every year. What sets Berberich, Chana, and DeBoer apart from the rest of the runners this year is that they are running for Team World Vision, an organization that provides fresh water for people living in Africa.

The students will be representing their church, Christ Church of Oak Brook, which raised money through its Team World Vision Donation Page. In addition, each of the students created her own donation page (Berberich, Chana, DeBoer) where anyone can make an online contribution. For every $50 they raise, one person in Africa will receive clean water.

DeBoer will also set aside a portion of her donations to support her family’s sponsor children in Mozambique. In total, the DeBoer family supports three African children.

“It’s cool to think that the money might be helpful to (our sponsor children),” DeBoer said.

Aside from their charitable efforts, the students also have a personal drive to run the marathon. “My dad has run the past two marathons, so after watching him, I just kind of decided why not just run it,” Berberich said.

Chana and DeBoer came to the decision together. “Heather and I made a bet when we were 13 that we would both run the marathon when we were 16,” Chana said. “Once sign-ups came, I forced her to do it. I held her to it.”

World Vision gave each girl a training schedule that suggested they run around four miles on Mondays, eight or nine miles on Tuesdays, five miles on Thursdays, and 20 miles on Saturdays. While this may seem like an impossible feat to non-runners, Chana insists this is not the case.

“It involves a lot of training, but it’s not as hard as you would think,” Chana said. “It’s something really anyone could do.” All of the girls admitted to deviating from their schedules every so often, but they each have different ways of staying motivated.

“Usually, I listen to music [when I run],” DeBoer said. “I try to think about the music rather than how hard it is when I’m getting tired.”

Another reason Berberich and DeBoer cited for skipping the occasional run was school conflicts. “[Training] takes up a lot of time,” Berberich said. “I play off-season lacrosse on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I have to plan [my schedule] around that, and then still put in time for homework. I’ll either skip the run or skip my homework.”

Despite these challenges, the girls agreed that balancing schoolwork, training, and other activities is worthwhile.“It would be cool to say I ran a marathon,” DeBoer said. “It’s a personal achievement to be able to say that I could do it, (while also being able) to raise money for the cause.”