DENTON (CBS11) – Denton firefighter Chad Neely is doing something he’s never attempted before. He is running 100 miles in one day.
Neely embarked on his journey just before 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, doing laps from Denton to Dallas. CBS11 caught up with to him 30 miles into his run. He remained optimistic and focused on his goal.
“This is going to happen one way or another, whether I finish tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon,” Neely says.
In sneakers and a hydration vest, the military veteran has been helping raise awareness and funds for a child who also has a long journey ahead.
Around Christmas he learned his friend’s 4-year-old daughter Amelie was battling a rare form of brain cancer. Her loved ones affectionately call her Lulu.
Lulu’s tiny body will have to undergo harsh rounds of chemotherapy and radiation.
“I looked up at my wife and said, I think I’m going to run 100 miles and see if we can raise some money,” Neely recalls.
“I wasn’t surprised at all, it’s just the heart he has,” says his wife Michelle.
Along the way, Michelle served as his cheerleader. She offered encouragement and helped Neely refuel, as he stopped for snacks every 20 miles. She tracked her husband’s journey via a running app.
“We have children and I can’t imagine what the family is going through. I’m so proud of him,” she said.
The City of Denton is proud, too.
Local business, Frenchy’s Lawn Service deemed Neely “Hero of the Day.” The tribute was visible in bold letters covering one of the big orange trucks the company is known for.
At Fire Station 2 in Denton, Neely’s buddies are thinking about him while on duty.
“Chad is just full of heart, honor and integrity. I think he would do that for any of us,” says colleague Anthony Perry.
Lulu’s family lives in San Diego. The 4-year-old’s father serves in the Navy. Neely and Lulu’s dad made a few deployments together to Iraq, forming a strong bond that has fueled this challenging goal.
By Tuesday afternoon, Neely had helped raise nearly $8,000 for Lulu’s medical expenses.
By 5:00 p.m., he had reached the halfway mark of his 100-mile goal.
He wasted no time thinking about his own pain.
“There are kids out there that are a lot tougher than we are,” he said.
He explained he would not quit because Lulu won’t.
“She’s not going to quit. She’s a fighter. We’re going to back her up,” Neely said as he raced on.
If you would like to find out how to help Lulu, click here.
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