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Team AllEars is Running with Purpose at this year's Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend endurance events

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Team AllEars is Running with Purpose at this year's Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend endurance events

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This time last year, over 55,000 runners journeyed to Central Florida to take part in the 17th annual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Over the next 48 hours, an equally large number of endurance athletes will be arriving in Orlando to take part in the 18th edition of this 4-day-long event.

Now that's obviously a very large group of people. Each of them with their own very personal reasons for pushing themselves to the limit like this, taking part in 13.1 & 26.2 mile races that will be held all over WDW property January 6 - 9th.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But what I'd like to do now is throw a spotlight on a relatively small portion of those 55,000 endurance athletes. To be specific, I'd like to talk about those 65 runners who have banded together  in order to raise money for breast cancer research. Which they're doing in the name of AllEars.Net founder and 24 year breast cancer survivor Deb Wills.

For those of you who don't know:  Team AllEars -- Running with Purpose is named after Wills's incredibly popular Disney vacation planning website as well as its companion weekly newsletter. For the second consecutive year, this caring group of individuals has used the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend  as a way to help raise awareness of this scourge. More importantly , to raise funds to help find a cure.

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Each member of Team AllEars has committed to raising at least $500 for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, soliciting pledges of financial support or donations from friends, family and even corporate sponsors. Last year team members raised over $25,000. And as of December 15, 2010, Team AllEars members had already matched that amount. Team co-captains Mike Scopa and Michelle Scribner-MacLean estimate the final total raised this year will exceed $30,000.

Says Wills: "We did last year as a trial run -- we weren't sure how it would all work. But by the time it was over, we all agreed that this was an extraordinary group of individuals, which convinced us that we needed to do it again."

Photo by Matt Stroshane. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Team AllEars members are coming to the Sunshine State to participate in this year's Walt Disney Marathon & Half Marathon from as far away as California and Washington State. There are even team members from Canada and Mexico. The runners span all age groups -- from novice runners in their 20s, to experienced 60-somethings.

Best of all, this big-hearted group of runners will be supported by an ardent group of followers who have dubbed themselves Team AllCheers. Many Team AllCheers members plan on attending marathon weekend events to root on their friends from the sidelines, while still others will lend their moral support from home, sending along motivational wishes and helping raise contributions as well.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"Last year our team members not only made themselves healthier by getting in shape for the marathon, but raised money that helped others get the services they needed to get healthier," notes Wills. "This year I'm looking forward to surpassing our goals, both financial and personal, as we continue to increase breast cancer awareness and battle against this disease."

And Ms. Wills doesn't just talk the talk. She also walks the walk. Over the last 10 years, Deb has actively participated in events that were designed to raise funds and awareness in the fight against breast cancer, of which she herself is a survivor. Deb has participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer as both a walker or a crew member since 2001, and has raised more than $225,000. For her special efforts in the fight against breast cancer, Deb was the featured speaker at the 2010 Washington DC Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Closing Ceremony and also received the 2006 Food & Friends Spirit of Friendship Award. So - obviously -- this is a cause that Ms. Wills believes strongly in.

Adriano Bastos crosses the finish line to win the 2010 Walt Disney
World Marathon.  Photo by Presto Mack. Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

More to the point, this is a cause that I believe strongly in. Every April, the Hill, Grant and Bardon families - along with hundreds of people for the local community - come together at Avon Baptist Church for the Janet McDonald Memorial Walk Against Cancer. It's our way of saying that we haven't forgotten about my cousin, that loving wife and devoted mother of three who lost her battle with melanoma in November of 1995. More importantly, that some good can come from this heart-breaking event.

Which is why I whole heartedly support what Deb Wills and Team AllEars -- Running with Purpose are trying to do at this year's Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. So if you'd like to see this inspiring group of endurance athletes exceed their 2011 $30,000 fund-raising goal (I know I would), please head on over to AllEars.net. To be specific, that site's Team AllEars Running Blog area and learn more about how you can help Deb & Co.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

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  • "This time last year, over 55,000 runners journeyed to Central Florida?"

    Where did you get his number from? I've run the marathon 9 times with multiple Top 100 finishes and one Top 50 finish and the 26.2 race field is usually around 13,000. The 1/2 marathon is typically  around the same. In the early days the race was capped at around 15k selling out around July... in the past six years interest has dwindled significantly with entries being taken late into the fall.

    I'm guessing you got Disney spin... in which they're accounting for the friends/family that come to cheer on participants.


  • 2010 Marathon - 14,948 finishers


    2010 Half Marathon - 17,144 finishers


    Disney PR Math = 55,000

    Real World Numbers = 32,092

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