NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A man ran more than seven consecutive marathons to honor a friend and raise money.
As CBS2’s Steve Overmeyer reported, it meant an ordinary man had to find strength in himself.
“I was really expecting to completely lose it when we crossed the finish line. I was just completely drained. I don’t know if I had a tear left to give, but it felt incredible,” Eric Gelber said.
Incredible considering he had just run 200 miles — 33 times around Central Park — over the course of just one weekend.
“I’m definitely not a professional runner. I’m married. I have three children, that’s my primary job,” he said.
A cancer diagnosis for his dear friend Anita would change the course of Eric’s life.
“We wanted to do something to support her, so I found out you could run the New York City Marathon and raise money. She didn’t even blink, she said it’s the MMRF,” he said.
That’s the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
Eric started running in her honor as she battled a deadly blood cancer. First it was marathons, then ultra-marathons to raise awareness and money.
“She’s here all around us,” Alan Sorrell said.
Anita died in 2012. Sorrell was her husband for 48 years.
“I always felt that whatever he accomplished it was enough. There was never a feeling it had to be the 200. It was not the result, it was the effort that was really meaningful,” he said.
Over the course of his runs since 2007, Eric has raised more than a million dollars for the MMRF.
“He’s one person who’s brought an entire community around him, not just to raise money, but to raise an incredible amount of awareness for this disease, and our organization. It’s extraordinary,” Anne Quinn Young said.
Eric attempted the 200 mile run twice before, but both times fell short of his goal. This time with a documentary crew tracking every step, Tani his wife and crew chief, was by his side.
More than 50 hours after he first started running, blistered and nearly broken, he finally crossed the finish line.
“I couldn’t believe it was happening, not that he couldn’t do it, but that we finally got to this point, and it was my family, the five of us holding hands across that finish line. It was an amazing feeling, amazing feeling,” Tani said.
“We all appreciate what he did. I think everyone, if you will, in the multiple myloma family feels that his efforts were extraordinary,” Alan added.
“I know our journey’s not over, but that part of it is, and it was special. I had my wife and my three kids, and 50 friends and patients and families of patients, everything that whole community was there. It was amazing,” Eric said.
The money that Eric has raised has helped in the development of 10 new drugs to fight the so-far incurable disease.