Saturday, May 1, 2004

Foot power becomes a helping hand

Rothzeid running for ill cousin

By Shannon Russell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Indian Hill senior David Rothzeid plays varsity tennis, is a show choir student director, carries a 3.7 grade-point average and spends his weekends refereeing youth soccer games.

In his spare time he's running the Flying Pig Marathon.

Indian Hill High School senior David Rothzeid is a do-it-all whiz, from National Honor Society to running the Flying Pig Marathon.
(Tony Jones photo)
"When he told me he was going to run, I couldn't believe it," Indian Hill varsity tennis coach Chris Hemingway said. "My sister ran a marathon six months ago, and I knew what kind of training went into it. "

Rothzeid knew, too. But his motivation for entering Sunday's marathon had little to do with staying busy or fit, or reaching any goals. He wanted to run for his cousin Sarah Thursby, who is battling ovarian and cervical cancer.

"I found out I could raise money for charities for cancer, and I wanted to do something more. The idea of running a marathon was just compelling to me," said Rothzeid, 18.

Thursby, 25, was diagnosed a year ago, and two weeks before the marathon was hospitalized in Arizona. Just last month Rothzeid's family vacationed in California, where he visited with his upbeat cousin.

She was in "high spirits," he said, and the only difference he noticed in her appearance was the wig she was wearing. They did not speak about her illness, and he did not tell her he was running a marathon in her honor. Rothzeid plans to share the entire story when he completes the race, though Thursby since has learned through family members about his intentions and has expressed gratitude for the efforts.

Click for a printable PDF map of the Flying Pig race course.

Other printable maps
(GIF image files):
10k course
5k course

After deciding to run the Pig, Rothzeid composed a letter to family and friends and asked for donations on Thursby's behalf. He walked door-to-door in his neighborhood and found a community outpouring.

He already has raised $1,014 for Cincinnati Marathon, Inc., the non-profit organization formed to host the Flying Pig, which raises money for charities. Flying Pig executive director Iris Simpson-Bush said this year's Pig contributions could hit the $1 million mark, an all-time high for giving.

"I'm in awe of the support I've gotten," Rothzeid said. "I'm really happy I've been able to raise so much."

In the middle of a championship tennis season, no less. Indian Hill - ranked No. 1 in the Division II state tennis poll - earned state team tennis titles in 2001 and 2003 and is favored again this year, Hemingway said. Rothzeid, a four-year varsity player, is an integral part of the lineup and has played both first and second doubles.

The sectional tennis tournament begins eight days after the marathon.

Since March, Rothzeid has devoted much of his time to long-distance running instead, training four times a week. He has gone as far as 20 miles.

"He's the kind of kid you're proud to have on your team," Hemingway said.

The future Miami University student said it's the least he could do for his cousin. After all she has been through, 26.2 miles isn't so bad.

"I pray every night for her," Rothzeid said. "My thoughts are with her a lot when I'm running."



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