SHOWCASING LOUISIANA: Baton Rouge woman runs 50 miles to raise money for Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center

Updated: Mar. 4, 2021 at 3:46 AM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Galloping footsteps break the quiet of the LSU Lakes on a chilly Sunday morning. The geese gliding across the glassy lake barely notice.

The sun is barely up, and it’s raining, but Corrie Mackey already has five miles of blacktop beneath her feet.

“The night before, I get excited,” said the Baton Rouge distance runner, “like it’s Christmas morning.”

Today, it’s an 18-mile training run with a few dedicated partners. She’s gearing up for the longest run of her life.

“The first question everybody asks me is, ‘How many days are you doing this over?’” Mackey said. It’s a reasonable question when you consider her goal: 50 miles, almost two full marathons in a single day. “Most people would probably consider this nuts.” Mackey said.

Crazy indeed, but when you hear her reason, it all begins to make sense.

This race to insanity began earlier this year when one of Mackey’s friends ran a marathon a day for 26 days to raise money for a charity. With so many of Mackey’s upcoming races cancelled due to COVID-19, she needed a reason to train, and Mackey’s Miles for Mary Bird Perkins was born.

Mackey is the human resources director at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Baton Rouge. She sees firsthand the work done there.

“Fundraising has definitely suffered this year, for obvious reasons,” she said. “Mary Bird Perkins relies on a lot of fundraising dollars for aspects of cancer treatment that aren’t funded by grants or insurance.”

In a normal year, the cancer center’s annual gala would raise nearly half a million dollars to go toward things like community screening, patient services, and clinical research. This year has been anything but normal.

Danie Mack is the vice president and chief development officer at Mary Bird Perkins. When the coronavirus caused the cancer center to cancel this year’s gala, Mack said lots of those dollars went with it.

“We’ve really had to look outside of the box this year in how we raise funds.” Mack said. “It’s a tough, tough, tough year.”

“When something like COVID so dramatically affects fundraising,” Mackey said. “My instinct was to jump in and do something that I could do to raise money. It was the only thing that made sense to me, to raise money for a charity that I care the most about.”

Mackey hopes her run can raise $50,000 for Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. The 50 miles, she said, is the easy part.

“Honestly, 50 miles, the running is not what I’m worried about. I’m a distance runner. I’m always training. I run a lot of miles every single day. It’s raising $50,000 that my focus is on. That’s the part I’ve never done before.”

As of March 3, Mackey smashed her goal of raising $50,000 for the cancer center by over $2,000. You can still donate until the end of March.

You can follow Mackey’s run preparations through her Facebook page Mackey’s Miles for Mary Bird Perkins. She makes her big run on Fri., March 5 to celebrate the cancer center’s 50th anniversary.

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