» Corey Circello
To most people, running from coast to coast may seem like a daunting task, but for senior pre-vet major Tracee Gruskiewicz, it was something she aimed to conquer in only 96 days, which would make her the youngest woman ever to run across the country.
She didn’t want to run just for herself, though. “I want to make it more meaningful than that,” Gruskiewicz said.
Gruskiewicz searched for months trying to find a cause that inspired her. Through the Church of Christ Student Center, she learned of a young man named Kyle Ferguson, whose mother and special needs brother, Cole, were murdered in Gulf Port, Miss.
Gruskiewicz said the story inspired her and decided to name her run “Cole’s Run.” The plan was to raise money to start a scholarship fund for the two surviving Ferguson sons.
Her initial goal was to raise $10,000 for the fund.
Regardless of whether or not she met her goal while on Cole’s Run, Gruskiewicz said she would continue fundraising after the run until she reached her goal.
The road wasn’t always an easy one, she said. There were rough days where Gruskiewicz really didn’t want to run, but was bribed by McDoubles. Those little hamburgers kept her going even on her weakest days.
Gruskiewicz said some days she was stopped by police while walking the roads at night.
Once, a police officer harassed Gruskiewicz verbally and threatened to have her and the rest of her team cited for illegally walking on the road.
Gruskiewicz said she really didn’t know how to handle the situation, so she just walked to her camper and ended the day five miles short of her 35-mile goal. Gruskiewicz said she simply got up the next morning and walked the five miles she had lost.
Starting on Monday, May 4, she slowly made her way through the desert. This meant dealing with mountains and small towns lacking running water or electricity.
Gruskiewicz coped by stopping every two hours to eat and drink plenty of water. “I do that every single day for 12 to 15 hours a day,” Gruskiewicz said.
Her run ended on Saturday, Aug. 11, with a big splash in the Atlantic Ocean and a couple of weeks of rest before her final year at APSU started. After she graduates in May, she plans on going to veterinary school.