Wednesday, May 17, 2017

14-year old completes 50th state marathon to save the eyesight of kids in need

When he crossed the finish line in Springfield today, 14-year-old Nikolas Toocheck completed a three-year quest to run a marathon in each of the 50 U.S. states – and he ran for a cause. He is raising money for the Seva Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides critical vision care to people in need around the world.

Nikolas Toocheck (left) finishes his 50-state marathon quest, along with his father, Dan Toocheck, May 16, 2017, Springfield,VT. - Photo by Tara Toocheck.

From the Bearfest Marathon in Alaska and the Kona in Hawaii, through races in the heartland states including Iowa and Missouri, to the high-altitude Silverton race in Colorado (9,300 feet above sea level), to the Icarus Florida Ultrafest and the Maine Trust Trail Fest: Nikolas has run them all. As a bonus, he even ran in Washington, D.C.’s Marine Corps Marathon last October, the youngest runner to complete that high-profile race.

Nikolas is also the youngest person to have completed marathons on all seven continents - including two marathons in Antarctica.

Through his Running the World for Children: Stateside campaign, Nikolas’ goal is to help children in need receive the gift of sight. Funds raised will support Seva’s pediatric programs to prevent blindness and preserve eyesight. For 39 years Seva has been a leading innovator in the delivery of vital sight-saving eye care services. Seva’s programs have a special effort to reach children.

Nikolas’s father is an eye doctor who has volunteered all over the world, providing eye care to people in need. Nikolas learned about this critical need while growing up.

"I can’t imagine not being able to see," says Nikolas, "and I really hope that I can help change that for a lot of kids."

An estimated 500,000 children become blind each year. Most live in developing countries. By providing access to proper eye care, 80% of blindness and low-vision can be prevented or cured.

Seva’s Director of Development, Julie Nestingen, notes, "It is wonderful to see the focus and commitment Nikolas has for making a difference in the world and he sets a beautiful example for other young people to realize that they ‘don't have to be big to make a difference.’ Seva is honored to have his level of commitment from our supporters, regardless of age. Nikolas is breaking records at many levels."

The Vermont race was the third of Mainly Marathon’s seven-day New England Series. Most marathon runners finish their race and go home to collapse, nurse their blisters, and congratulate themselves on a race well run. But not Nikolas: he just ran Day 2 of this series in New Hampshire the day before, and today’s race was his sixth marathon in six weeks.

The idea of running to help others is not new to Toocheck. Already the youngest person to complete a marathon on each continent (at age 11), Toocheck started a philanthropic campaign to help children in need called Running the World for Children when he was just 9 years old. To date, he has raised over $42,000 for children in need. The Vermont Mainly Marathon was the 57th marathon that he has participated in. To help kids receive the gift of sight, please go to and donate today.

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Video: Wren Song – Springfield, VT

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