Running 1,000 miles in 50 states is tough, but there’s a heartfelt purpose

Mother of late Air Force airman running 1,000 miles for Wreaths Across America

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Cathy Powers is on a mission.

The North Carolina wife and mother is running 1,000 miles in 2019, and doing it in bits and pieces across the United States.

"I decided I'm going to run in all 50 states in honor of our veterans," she said.

Every step also honors her late son.

Six years ago, Air Force Senior Airman Bryce Powers died after a traffic accident in Japan. Her life went into a tailspin.

"I just thought nothing would ever be the same without my son," she said. "I just didn't really care. I just stopped. I got in a bad place."

Powers was depressed and eating herself into oblivion. Her body weight ballooned to nearly 300 pounds.

Then came a realization and transformation.

"I needed to do something bigger than me," she said.

She took up running. She also also got involved with Wreaths Across America.

Every December the organization places wreaths on graves at Arlington National Cemetery, where Bryce is buried.

"It was a marathon of change," Powers said. "It took me years but I'm finally living, for both of us."

She’s using her nationwide run to draw attention to her cause. Through her Facebook page Powers encourages people to sponsor wreaths for this December’s Arlington ceremony.

Each wreath costs $15. She’s trying to secure sponsors for 7,777 wreaths ― one for each day Bryce was alive.

"That number is not just a random number. I thought I need to do something good with that number," she said.

Powers started her trek in California. On Thursday, she ran eight miles at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

So far, she’s logged 169 miles toward her finish line.

"I was the mom in the minivan driving to get the mail. Now I'm running. I'm running a thousand miles!" she said.

Powers is paying for all of her travel expenses. But families across the mainland who hear of her mission have offered to host her in their homes.

" I got so many responses. I mean hundreds!" she said.

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