Cross-country run raises funds for brain injuries

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LOGANSPORT, Ind. (AP) — Jessica Goldman took off into a run down East Market Street in Logansport early Monday morning pushing her three-wheeled cart full of supplies toward U.S. 24. She hoped to reach Huntington before storms in the forecast and that her water rations would last her the nearly 50-mile trip.

The 41-year-old New Hampshire native is nine weeks into running from San Francisco, California, where she received a mayoral sendoff in April, to New York City to raise funds for the Brain Injury Association of America.

Part of the drive behind Goldman's advocacy began while working in special education at an elementary school with a second grader who continues to cope with a brain injury after being struck by a bus. Goldman recently reconnected with her former student, now in her 20s, along with the woman's mother. She calls the challenges the woman and her single mother have had to overcome "eye opening."

"People like this need advocacy and support and organizations to help them," Goldman told the Pharos-Tribune (http://bit.ly/1lLlgVN ). "They have a lot of difficulties they have to go through."

One of Goldman's friends who was helping her gather sponsors as she prepared for her trip was diagnosed with Hashimoto's encephalitis, a disorder of the neuroendocrine cells in the brain. Suddenly, he became one of the people she would run to raise funds for, she said.

A few years ago while serving with the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, Goldman was riding in a taxi that struck a man in what she described as a "traumatizing, graphic experience." Knowing the likelihood the man suffered a brain injury in a country with few resources to assist in such a situation, she said the incident reminded her of the resources in her own country and made her want to work to boost those resources in some way.

"I've always obsessed over what happened to that guy," Goldman said. "This was an awful experience. How can I turn it into something positive?"

Every morning for about the past nine weeks, she has been working to turn it into something positive by waking up at about 5 a.m. and packing her gear into her three-wheeled cart with a sign reading "CA to NY" plastered on the front. She pushes everything she needs in front of her, including her camping gear, clothing, first aid kit, water, phone, food and solar panel for charging electronics.

She's already had to tack on hundreds of extra miles and experienced several delays for surprises like detours, bridges being washed out, tornadoes, hail, windstorms and fog.

"The running is probably the easiest part," she continued, adding that her biggest challenge so far has been drivers. Occasionally she will have to jump off the shoulder of a road to dodge one who is texting.

She has been averaging between 45 and 55 miles a day and will be the second woman to run solo from coast to coast, according to a release on Goldman's efforts. Her goal is to raise $5 for every mile she runs on the nearly 3,200-mile journey.

All of that distance leaves ample time to think, which she said she fills by writing songs in her head, singing to herself and thinking about what she'll do when she completes her journey and returns home.

"Is there a word that rhymes with silver?" she said with a laugh, listing one of the many random thoughts that flows through her mind on her runs. "I'm out there a long time by myself."

But she's not always by herself. Sometimes people will find her online via the signal-emitting tracker on her cart and run with her for a while. Others will pull over in their cars to offer her cold drinks, ask her about what she's doing, make donations to her cause and share their own stories with her.

Goldman certainly isn't by herself in terms of her web presence, having attracted almost 3,000 likes on her Facebook page by Monday.

"It sort of reminds me and everybody else that there are a lot of good people out there," Goldman said. "There are people wanting to do good things, they just don't know what to do and when they see a chance, they jump on it."

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Information from: Pharos-Tribune, http://www.pharostribune.com

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