From April 16th to April 17th, two of Philly’s top runners, John Sullivan and Kellen Matthews, will be the first to run the full 109 miles of the Schuylkill River Trail in support of the city's most financially distressed cancer patients. The money raised from this run will be used to provide cancer patients and their families with much-needed groceries to prevent hunger and relieve financial burden. David April, founding board member of Legacy of Hope and founder of Fishtown Beer Runners, will be completing the second leg of SRT109 alongside John and Kellen. April became a founding member of Legacy of Hope at the very beginning, through meeting CEO and founder, Michael Rowe, by doing a fundraiser for Eleventh House Racing, a running club that was the forerunner of Legacy of Hope. He now holds a significant impact in the leadership of the organization and is an essential team member of this community.
“It all started with me needing to do something productive and turning into a community of runners.”
April hasn’t always been a runner. When explaining how he first got into running, April says, “I started running in 2007. I was going through a divorce and I’d never ran in my life, but I needed to do something positive and constructive. I just stepped out my door and started running down the block and it felt good.” What started as a hobby to blow off some steam and make himself feel better, quickly became a national and global community. Once April decided he wanted to stick with running, he started to train for his first 5k. During his training, his good friend and running mentor told him about a doctor in Grenada, Spain who had done hydration studies with beer. These studies suggested that drinking beer after a long run wouldn’t hurt you and could actually have some restorative properties. From this study, the Fishtown Beer Runners was born -- “Running and drinking in the name of science.” The Fishtown Beer Runners would go running and end their exercise in a bar with some beer, toasting to the Spanish scientist. This community of runners soon gained traction and went national and then global with their connections to Spain. April explains that at the time, running and drinking was not a popular pairing: “Bars thought we were idiots, running clubs didn’t think we were real runners, and now the Philly Marathon sells beer at the end of their races.” April gives credit to this same pairing as the reason for the success of this running community. “That’s what the key is- we’re a social club that’s focused on running, but we’re social enough to encourage people who would never think about running to break down barriers and join us. Come on, we’re having a beer at the end, it can’t be that bad, right?”
April explains that running has become far more than a physical activity to him and that the magic of it all lies in the sense of community and the connections he’s made with other people because of it. “The running club is less about beer and running than it is about community and helping other people -- not only when they’re going through bad times, but also in good times. Since the club started, we’ve had about 12 marriages and following that we have 8 or 9 Beer Runner babies. The running has been the common denominator but beyond that, it’s about the community and giving back.” He explains that this is the reason he wanted to take part in SRT109. “I heard about what they [John and Kellen] were doing. The fact that they were doing it for Legacy of Hope, for our mission, to raise funds for cancer support and research, I thought ‘Wow, I can’t just stand by while they do that. I’m not able to do what they’re able to do, but as a board member and as a cancer patient myself, I gotta do something.’” April says that with every marathon, run, and race he has completed for charity, the accomplishment lies in knowing you completed the race in order to help others. When asked about taking part in SRT109 with his wife and sisters, April expressed that it is a celebration, a way to share a positive experience with the people who have been through so much with him through his ongoing journey beating and continuing to fight cancer. “Having cancer is a family affair. You go through it yourself, but then you realize that you have this family around you that has been affected. They’ve helped me, and they want to celebrate too.” He also mentions that a lot of the satisfaction from this run will come from having raised money for such an amazing cause and organization.
“The work that LOH does directly impacts cancer patients, whether it be through the grocery delivery program or the research that they fund. Knowing that we earned some money for the cause will make me feel good and give me some satisfaction. Hopefully, I’ll feel good afterward- I’m so out of shape.”
To learn more about David and the Fishtown Beer Runners' journey as a running community, check out the documentary created on David and the group here!
To learn more about all the different ways you can get involved in SRT109, visit our event page on our website.
And to donate directly to David’s fundraising page for the event, donate here.