Off to Boston for a cause

Dave Deeter and Tricia (Gillum) Sherlin have two different reasons for heading to Boston on April 21.

Deeter is the Maplewood boys cross country coach and former distance runner for the Rockets, so distance running is in his blood. Sherlin, who grew up in Leavittsburg, didn’t fathom herself as a distance runner in high school or even college, but a friend convinced her to help her train for, of all things, a half-marathon.

“I remember doing the first mile thinking that I was going to die,” said Sherlin, who moved from her Leavittsburg area home after her sophomore year. “Then, I did it a few more times and I felt comfortable with it.”

Funny enough, she got the distance-running bug, which is about as addictive as a morning cup of coffee.

“Once I did that a few times, I got in a groove,” said Sherlin, a 2002 Revere High School graduate. “That was the point I realized if I could do 1 (mile), I could do 3. If I could do 3, I could do 7. If I could do 7, 10 and so on and so forth. I realized as long as I’m taking care of my body and making sure I’m resting and recovering, then it truly is mind over matter. I have the health to do it, so why not put my mind to it.”

Deeter always puts his mind into his distance work, which explains his time from the recent Columbus Marathon that qualified him for the Boston Marathon. Others can run through raising money for a service project. He’s doing both.

One that was near and dear to Deeter’s heart was the Organization for Autism Research. Deeter, a 1991 Maplewood graduate, hopes to create some understanding for people who suffer from autism.

His 13-year-old daughter, Saleen, is autistic, but is considered high-functioning and is integrated into the regular classes in the Maplewood system. Deeter, a Maplewood Middle School teacher, said he’s already raised $500, but hopes to reach more than $2,000.

“I’ve had other students that have had autism in my classroom,” said Deeter, who also has daughters, Shelby, 14, and Sierra, 9. “I know not a lot of people fully understand it. I know when kids look at her, and even adults look at her, don’t quite understand what’s going on in her head. I don’t even fully understand what’s going on. I just want people to realize they are normal people. They do have feelings. They do try to function as well as they can. They’re wired differently than everyone else. Doesn’t mean they’re bad or different people, just wired a little different. In fact, I’d love to live in Saleen’s mind for a couple of days.”

Meanwhile, Sherlin lives in Cleveland, Tenn., the same town of Lee University, where she graduated. She is a therapist with private practice and works as a behavior intervention specialist for students with special needs.

Sherlin won’t be the only Cleveland-area runner participating in the marathon marred by a terrorist incident that killed and injured spectators at the finish line last April.

“After the Boston bombing last year, they all got together,” Sherlin said. “They were so moved by it, they wanted to do something to remember and honor those victims and the people that were involved.”

There’s a group of about 30 people making an eight-day trek from Cleveland to Boston, passing through Ground Zero in New York City, Sandy Hook Elementary in Massachusetts and the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

There are four vans provided for rental by a Cleveland-area dealership. Each of the runners have at least 6 miles in them per day with a trailer van, while the others are ahead.

The goal is to deliver around $50,000 toward Dream Big, a nonprofit organization in Boston helping girls through activity and One Step Ahead Foundation, which provides prosthetic legs to the children injured in the Boston bombing. The Run Now Relay will end its 1,000-mile journey at the start line of the Boston Marathon. The idea was spurn last summer.

“It’s a really diverse group of runners in a sense that we’re not all marathon runners,” Sherlin said. “Not all running the Boston Marathon.

“It’s truly been a collective effort from everyone in the community. We’re hopeful that we’ll make the goal. We’d love and hope to surpass that.”

This group experience for Sherlin might get her back on track with her consistent distance training. She had nearly 40 miles in one week, at her peak.

“It’s inspired me to train for a full. I’m not qualified or ready to do the Boston Marathon, but I have every intention once I get back, just in the runner’s spirit to continue training to reach another big goal of doing a full in the fall,” she said.