default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Former Woodbridge resident Ethan Bennett to fight cancer with coast-to-coast run

Bennett plans to run in memory of his mother, who died in May 2006

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:08 am, Wed Oct 12, 2011.

It was late on Sunday night, but Ethan Bennett couldn’t sleep. So he did what he’s done for years to deal with stress: He went for a run. Two hours circling around his old Woodbridge neighborhood was enough to clear his mind. The 22-year-old lives for that runner’s high, for being in a zone where it feels like nothing can touch him.

Next year, he’ll be spending a lot of time there as he runs across America to raise money to aid the fight against cancer.

“It’s going to be fun,” he said, grinning. “And miserable.”

Bennett sees each run as a challenge to see how far he can go before his body simply gives up. Running cross-country will require him to face that challenge over and over again for four months. His plan is to hit the 30-mile mark six days in a row and rest on the seventh to complete a total of 3,289 miles.

This demanding timeline commences on June 5, 2012 in New York City and ends in San Francisco, to allow Bennett to literally run coast to coast. Ideally, he would like to kick off his trek on the anniversary of his mother’s death, but that’s three weeks before his college graduation date.

“If I weren’t in school, I’d be running right now,” he said.

For Bennett, this journey will serve as a way to give back to the community that has helped his family through a tough time. He hopes to donate at least $500,000 to Livestrong, an organization that provides support for people affected by cancer, at the end of his trek.

Reminders of his purpose are always close at hand. Bennett sports a gold Livestrong bracelet on one wrist while his cellphone is covered by a black and gold Livestrong case. Even his favorite running shirt is a bold yellow.

There is a simple purpose behind Bennett’s plan: “The experience of watching my mom go through cancer; no one should have to go through that,” Bennett said.

Susan Bennett lost her fight with cancer five years ago. She was first diagnosed with colon cancer when Bennett was a sophomore at Lodi High School. After six months of chemotherapy treatments, Susan was declared cancer-free. But a standard checkup a few months later revealed new tumors had spread to her ovaries. This time the treatments didn’t work. She passed away on May 5, 2006.

To deal with the stress and grief, Bennett spent time with a close circle of family and friends. His parents had divorced before his mom was diagnosed, so Bennett moved to Gilroy to live with his dad and finish up high school.

Always the athletic type, he fell into the running habit to zone out from the chaos of his family’s trauma.

He began toying with the idea of fundraising for cancer research in 2009. The idea didn’t cement itself until Bennett saw a YouTube video of Terry Fox. Fox was a famous Canadian runner and activist who also aimed to make it from coast to coast after he lost one leg to cancer.

“He ran with an artificial leg, in the ’80s,” explained Bennett excitedly. “He made it over 3,000 miles until he was diagnosed with lung cancer and had to stop.”

For Bennett, stories like Fox’s give him hope and make the journey seems possible.

Before he stares down the open road, however, Bennett has a different kind of challenge. He needs to raise enough money to support himself and a small crew of friends and family in an RV while he runs.

“I don’t want them to sacrifice four months of their life, or lose their job,” said Bennett. Ideally, he’d like a team to travel with him for shifts of a few weeks to a month at a time.

Two potential crew members are Daniel and Haley Bennett, Bennett’s siblings. Beyond the family history, Daniel has a very personal reason for supporting his brother’s efforts. The Stockton resident was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer. The Livestrong organization is helping to cover the costs of his medical bills for treatment.

“It’s crazy, but I know he can do it,” said Daniel about his brother’s project. “It’s definitely an awesome and amazing thing to do.”

Bennett’s no professional. For now, he is his own nutritionist and running coach. His training regimen is pretty informal.

“Maybe I’ll do some hills one day, and then sprints, then a long run,” said Bennett. He’s completed a few marathons and half-marathons. He sometimes runs the 20 miles from his home in Incline Village, Nev. to Sierra Nevada College, a private school where he majors in digital arts.

There are some days when Bennett gets tired, when it seems like too much work to put on his shoes and get outside. Not to mention the twin hassles of planning and encouraging donors. It’s enough to make him question the whole project.

“But then I think about why I’m doing it and I’m like, yeah, there’s no question,” he said. “Unless I’m dying, I don’t think anything will stop me. I don’t really mind damaging my body for this.”

When he first created and launched his website, www.runtofight.com, he didn’t expect too much to come of it. But when Helen Luciane, a family acquaintance, got wind of his project, she made a few phone calls and things started happening.

Now he’s working on potential big-name sponsors and fielding conference calls to hash out the logistics of where to sleep and how to pay for the venture. For example, the average running shoe has about three to four hundred miles of life in it before they lose shape and support. Bennett anticipates tearing through at least 20 pairs before he reaches the West Coast.

“In the past month and a half, things have really gone forward, and it’s like, ‘Holy smokes,’” Bennett said, shaking his head in disbelief. There are still eight months to go before he heads east to begin. Bennett anticipates knee problems, blisters and the loss of more than a few toenails, but he shrugs all this off. He can already imagine the feeling of that last mile through the hilly streets of San Francisco.

“That’s gonna be an awesome feeling,” Bennett said, smiling.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

More about

More about

More about

Reference Links

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • Kim Lee posted at 4:02 pm on Wed, Oct 12, 2011.

    Kim Lee Posts: 1798

    God bless you, Ethan Bennett. Run like the wind young man!



Popular Stories


Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 98


Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists