Name: Steve Spear Age: 48Tie to Kane County: Resides in St. CharlesWhat makes him intriguing: After trading in a full-time paying job to become a volunteer running ambassador, Spear will run cross-country from L.A. to New York in the spring Words To Live By: “It’s not about the number of miles or the distance, it’s about moving forward to make a difference.” — Steve Spear
Steve Spear wasn’t always a runner.
“When I was young, running itself was the furthest thing from my radar,” says the St. Charles resident. It wasn’t until a close friend began encouraging him to participate in marathons that Spear, who admits he used to hate everything about running, thought he’d give his legs a good workout not just for the physical benefits, but also to help raise money for a charity he had recently discovered.
At the time, Spear had been working as a full-time church pastor at Willow Creek Community Church DuPage when he caught word about World Vision, a nonprofit organization devoted to improving the quality of life for children across the globe by delivering fresh water, food and education.
“I realized it was time to step into the unknown and do something different,” Spear says, noting he called it quits to his paying job in 2007 in order to devote himself to World Vision by becoming the group’s volunteer running ambassador.
Undertaking the challenge of crossing the finish line at the end of each marathon he ran — including the 26.2-mile Chicago Marathon and a 56-mile ultra marathon in South Africa — was not an easy task. Prior to each race, Spear spent time gathering donations so that those in need could maintain a healthy lifestyle without the threat of disease or infection caused by malnutrition. He once raised $150,000 for a race.
Despite taking on some of the toughest courses across the country, Spear isn’t showing any signs of slowing. If anything, the activist has continued to stay one step ahead by undertaking tough challenges that have given him the strength to begin his newest adventure: a 3,200-mile run from Los Angeles to New York. Spear will spend four or five months traveling along historic Route 66 until he hits Chicago, at which point he will take alternate routes. He plans to start April 1, 2013, and he has a goal of raising $1,000,000.
“Fear shouldn’t keep any of us from doing anything,” Spear says, adding that his daughter Chelsea, 19, son Zach, 24, and wife Frances are keeping his spirits high.
“They’re exceedingly supportive.”
Others, like family friend Ashley Dingle, can’t help but send plenty of encouragement Spear’s way.
“Steve is the type of guy who will put others before himself, without question, every single time,” she says.
For more information about Spear’s cross-country run or to donate to his cause, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.runningforwater.com.