Kesner tackles 100 mile run-raiser for charity

Matt Kesner smiles for the camera as he runs towards his 100 mile goal. He was able to raise thousands of dollars for multiple charities in need.

Photo: Gene Peters

Matt Kesner smiles for the camera as he runs towards his 100 mile goal. He was able to raise thousands of dollars for multiple charities in need.

By Imani Reed, Flyer Staff

Fairmont High School counselor Matt Kesner has always been willing to sacrifice his own well-being and needs in order to help better those around him. His most recent endeavor included challenging himself to run 100 miles around the Fairmont track.

Kesner has always had a passion for running, so he decided to use his passion for a good cause. Along with raising money for Spirit Chain, Kesner set out to raise money for a school in The Democratic Republic of Congo.

He has a deeper connection to Congo than many realize. In 2014, Kesner and his wife Joanna, adopted their son Mordecai from the Democratic of Republic of Congo. In 2017 they adopted their second child, daughter Georgia.

Kesner and his wife always knew they wanted to start a family by adopting.

“When we first started dating, she told me that was her plan,” Kesner said.

While completing his son’s adoption in 2014, he developed a very strong relationship with a missionary family in the DRC. The “Grings Missionary” played a pivotal role in Kesner’s journey.

“They really helped keep us safe during multiple city-wide riots and attempted coups,” Kesner said.  

While he was there, he visited one of their schools. According to Kesner, it was a walled-off area with a few rooms that only had three walls. Here they educated and fed more than 1,000  kids per day, most of whom were from one of the poorest communities in Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC.

“They told me over 50 of the kids were legitimately homeless, living in the garbage piles,” he said.

Their school offered one of the only meals some of these kids got all day. Without a roof or more rooms, they would have to cancel school anytime it rained. Since Kinshasa is very close to the equator and is basically a tropical rain forest, school was cancelled a lot.

“After returning to the USA and getting back into my routine of life, I still couldn’t help but think about those kids needing a simple roof,” Kesner said.

Inspired by a friend, Kesner came up with the idea of this run-raiser and reached out to his friends and Spirit Chain advisers at Fairmont.

“One of my friends ran 100 miles in his neighborhood to raise money for his daughters former orphanage. I ran a lot of his race with him and was inspired to do the same.”

Kesner set a goal of 100 miles and knew that he would need 30 hours to complete it. 

He set goals each week leading up to the event, as if training for a marathon or 50K. He made it a point to train with a purpose for this specific challenge. 

He was only able to complete 75 miles in 28 hours. He was forced to stop short of his 100 mile goal due to an achilles injury.

“I had to stop because my achilles had swelled up really really big,” he said. “I was pretty annoyed because I didn’t meet my goal.”

Even stopping at mile 75, Kesner was able to raise just over $5,000 at this event for both Spirit Chain and the children in Congo.  

“I know I need to turn this into a book or Hallmark movie, but it all seems so normal to me, that I forget there are really interesting parts to this story.”