A major gift for OCC…and the video is online!

Wade’s wife Heather, here…I am excited to announce that Operation Christmas Child will receive many more shoeboxes because of a group of employees in Tampa, Florida, who heard about Wade’s run. My father told a client of his about Wade’s effort, and she was so touched by the story that she organized a fundraiser at her company, A.D. Morgan in Tampa. They are still counting the donations, but so far they can confirm that at least $1,100 was contributed for shoeboxes and their shipping. I will have the privilege of spending this money to put together shoeboxes as this collection week draws to a close.

Also, I am very excited to announce that the video about Wade shot by the Samaritan’s Purse staff is now online. It brought tears to my eyes, and you can view it at http://www.samaritanspurse.org/MP_Article.asp?ArticleID=133.  You can play the video right from that Web page, and won’t even need to open your computer’s media player.

Thank you, Arthur, Ben and Chaz from Samaritan’s Purse, for portraying this journey in such an awesome way. We praise God for all He has done through the Run Across North Dakota, and we count ourselves very blessed to have been a part of God’s plan for needy children in this way.


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Filed under Christmas, marathon, North Dakota, Operation Christmas Child, Running, ultramarathon

Day 16: The End!!

(Finale photos now available on the photos page!)

It’s hard to believe…but the Run Across North Dakota is over!! I completed the journey of about 390 miles today in the Scheels parking lot around 11:20 a.m. About 100 people turned out in some very windy and chilly weather to cheer me across the finish line. I was accompanied along the 11-mile route from Mapleton to Fargo by several runners….some ran the whole way, while others joined in for shorter segments. I had a police escort throughout today’s run to block intersections for our safety along the way. At one point, North Dakota Congressman Earl Pomeroy took a break from a Habitat for Humanity project to run a half-mile with me in boots! I think I could have sprinted the last couple of miles because of the adrenaline rush of the last day.

The Samaritan’s Purse camera crew was there throughout the final day and they hope to have a video on their Web site later this week. Please check this blog next week for a link to see the video. I’ll also post any last-minute news from the run in an update next week.

We received about 350 shoeboxes at Scheels today, and several other people bought items in the store to donate to the shoebox effort. Several people stopped by to congratulate me and say how thankful they were for the additional publicity brought to Operation Christmas Child through this event. We have a few shoebox pledges still to post this weekend, which should push the total over 1,900 boxes…isn’t that awesome?

It’s not too late to do a shoebox! Nov. 12 through Nov. 19 is national collection week; visit my Web site www.runacrossnd.com to find the collection site nearest you. I think you will find that preparing a shoebox is really fun….several people who dropped off boxes commented how much they enjoyed shopping for a needy child.

I feel so blessed by all that God has done along this journey. Heather and I hope to plan another unique event to generate shoeboxes next year, but I am pretty confident it will not involve running across any state or swimming across any large body of water!

I am so thankful for all of the prayers you offered on my behalf…God answered them so many times, and without His help, I know I could not have completed this run. Overall, I am amazed at how good I feel, and I am looking forward to some time to rest and marvel at all God has done!!


Filed under Christmas, marathon, North Dakota, Operation Christmas Child, Running, ultramarathon

Day 15: Toughest day of all

Today has been a good, but really long day. It has been so busy that I am not even posting this blog until 10 p.m., which has been past my bedtime for most evenings of the run.

The day began with a guest appearance live in the studio of the local Christian radio station, KFNW-FM. Pastor Kirk Millitzer from Triumph Lutheran Brethren Church (the area OCC collection center) joined me for some good-natured kidding, including his announcement that I’ve decided what I will do in 2008 for Operation Christmas Child: swim from California to Hawaii!! This was just a joke! I’ll be the one laughing tomorrow when Pastor Kirk has to follow through with his committment to run a few miles with me.

Today, I ran from Buffalo to Mapleton, a tiring 23 miles. I was accompanied all day today by a camera crew from Samaritan’s Purse, the organization that runs Operation Christmas Child. Their team is shooting my story for use on their Web site and possibly in the 2008 OCC promotional video. I was accompanied on the run by two buddies, Brent and Kendall. The run was physically tough, especially the last few miles.

After the run, the camera crew came back to my home for a few hours to interview me and my wife and to get video of our family preparing shoeboxes. I also returned several run-related phone calls this evening, so you can see why I am a little worn out.

Tomorrow is the long-awaited finale at Scheels. I am looking forward to the final, 11-mile segment that will complete my Run Across North Dakota. The camera crew will be there to film it all, and I will be escorted by local law enforcement for my safety and the safety of the numerous runners expected to join me for the last part of run.

I have been feeling a little rough this evening, so please pray that God would provide everything I need to finish strong tomorrow. I am looking forward to an awesome day!


Filed under Christmas, marathon, North Dakota, Operation Christmas Child, Running, ultramarathon

Day 14: Encouraging friends

I must admit I was a little concerned about today and the next 2 days of running. Today was actually a very good day. Was it painful?? A little, but I had many people praying, and God watched over me and my running companions as well. There are a few groups that played a big part in my run today.

The fourth, fifth and sixth graders from St. Catherine’s School in Valley City prayed for me this morning. It was great to meet them and have them bless me. Also the students from Triumph Lutheran Brethren prayed for me last night on the phone. They have followed me from the beginning and have been a huge blessing. I think it is amazing how your spirit is lifted when others lift you in prayer. Another good lesson I’ve learned–the POWER of prayer.

I had 3 runners with me today- Rick, Jeanne and Kendall. They really helped me get the miles in today and were a huge blessing to me. I ran from a few miles east of Valley City to a few miles east of Tower City today. I look forward to doing my last long run tomorrow of about 23 miles. I am REALLY looking forward to Saturday! I hope to see you at Scheels if you can make it. Thanks for stopping by and thank you for your support!

God Bless You!


Filed under athletics, encouragement, Faith, marathon, North Dakota, Operation Christmas Child, Running, Training, Valley City

Day 13: Feeling the pain

I made it to Valley City today! Today was a short run, which was fine with me. I did go out and do a little bit of a second run. I am a little concerned about the next two days of 25 miles each, so today I knocked off around 6 of the miles for tomorrow.  I got to run with a dear friend from church today. It was great to have someone to pass the time with.
I am starting to see that this run is taking its toll on my body. When I first started the journey a few weeks ago, the daily run looked like this: the first 2 hours of each run were easy, hour 3 was a little tough, hour 4 was starting to get uncomfortable, hour 5 was tolerable, but I could start to feel the pain.
Today,  it looks like this:
Hour 1– body creaks and makes funny noises that I have never heard from a human body. The body sends messages to the brain stating, “Are you crazy!! We are not doing this again! We’re old! Stop already, baldy!”
Hour 2– Body asks, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?  Are we there yet???”
Hour 3– blood stops flowing to non-vital areas of the body–basically everything from the waist up. Running looks more like seizure activity.
Hour 4– Basically start seeing all signs of imminent death- irregular breathing, drooling, hearing voices, and a very large bright light straight ahead.
Hour 5– Just pain….wishing I was back at hour 4.   

Seriously…I am very blessed, and I will make it! Tomorrow I will be giving a presentation at St. Catherines School. Please keep this and my body in your prayers.
I can’t wait to see everyone at Scheels or when I get back! God’s peace and blessings to all of you reading this.


Filed under athletics, Christmas, humor, North Dakota, Operation Christmas Child, Running, ultramarathon, Valley City

Day 12: Do you need a ride?

(New photos posted today on blog photo page) 

“Do you need a ride…or are you kind of jogging?” That’s the question a man in a pickup truck pulled over to ask me today as I ran from Jamestown to Sanborn. In fact, a total of three people stopped to ask if I needed a ride…that’s a one-day record for me and a nice reminder of the kindness of strangers.

My day began with a presentation to the Barnes County Ministerial Association. Before my talk, the group heard a speech on the stages of dying. When I got up to speak, I mentioned I think I have experienced all the stages during this run! That got a good laugh from the crowd.

Along my route, I got a surprise visit from a camera crew from KVLY-TV. I will be featured in a story on Tuesday’s 10 p.m. news on their station.

I ran about 20 miles today, with the last two hours becoming physically tough. My endurance seems to be deteriorating in the latter part of my daily runs, so I would appreciate your prayers for that. I know it could make the last few days of this journey very tough, but I am determined to finish the race marked out for me.  (Hebrews 12:1-2)


Filed under athletics, Jamestown, marathon, North Dakota, Operation Christmas Child, Running, ultramarathon, Valley City

Brrr…a great day to rest!

Today, I enjoyed the one rest day built into my Run Across North Dakota schedule.
It certainly seemed like divine timing, because today was the most wintery weather I’ve seen since the run began. In Fargo, it was in the 30s with winds up to 40 mph and snow flurries. I was very grateful to be indoors today.

I enjoyed a nice, hour-long massage today to try to work out some of the tightness in my hamstrings and calves. I also took time to drive the route for the last day of the run. Once it is approved by local police, we will be posting information on the blog about how those wishing to run part or all of the last day can participate.

There’s one exciting bit of news to report: Samaritan’s Purse, the parent organization for Operation Christmas Child, is sending a video crew to film the journey of the run across ND. An edited piece will be placed on the Samaritan’s Purse Web site and some of the footage may also be used in the official 2008 OCC promotional DVD. I am honored that the organization thinks this story is one worthy of sharing with the nation! I think they are moved with the response from everyone across this great state.

Tomorrow morning, I have a speaking engagement before resuming the run where I left off in Jamestown, North Dakota. If you are interested in running with me Wednesday, Thursday or Friday (which will include the Sanborn, Valley City and Buffalo areas), please e-mail me at wwmitzel@hotmail.com with your contact information so we can discuss the details.

I hope everyone had a great Monday…I sure did!


Filed under Christmas, Jamestown, marathon, North Dakota, Operation Christmas Child, Running, ultramarathon