A newsmaker you should know: He runs, hikes to raise money for charitable foundation
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Doug Macphail's friends and family don't mind supporting his efforts to raise money for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of Western Pennsylvania. They just want to make him work for it, he says.
"I found donors are more willing to give if I suffer," he joked. "And I suffered twice this year."
Mr. Macphail, 59, of Franklin Park, raised donations by running the Pittsburgh Marathon and hiking the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge. The marathon, held in May, is 26.2 miles, and the challenge, held in June, is approximately 35 miles.
Mr. Macphail is past president and serves on the board of the foundation, an organization devoted to raising awareness and funding for research, treatment and cures for the two illnesses.
A runner, Mr. Macphail discovered he had ulcerative colitis in 1991 during a training run for a marathon.
"I was nine miles from home when I developed a strong abdominal cramp -- a gut pain -- and I had to walk home," he said.
Thinking it was a strained muscle, every time he thought he could start training again, the pain would come back. "As soon as I ran, it would start," he said.
Mr. Macphail then discovered blood in his stool. "You know how your imagination goes -- of course, I thought the worse," he said.
He consulted with a gastrologist and had a colonoscopy, and his ulcerative colitis was discovered. "I remember hearing the doctor saying, 'Here it is, here it is, here's the inflammation,' during the colonoscopy," Mr. Macphail said.
Mr. Macphail's condition was monitored by medication, but many who have the disease aren't able to control it through medicine.
"Some have flare-ups all the time -- daily, while others have them weekly or monthly. And some people have to have surgery to remove part of their intestines," he said.
For years, Mr. Macphail "lived alone with the disease" until he read about the foundation in 2005. Shortly after, he coincidently met a member of foundation's board and introduced himself.
In 2007, Mr. Macphail joined the board. "I wanted to give back," he said.
Part of the "giving back" has been participating in the "Take Steps for Crohn's & Colitis" campaign, a national fundraising effort.
"I started four years ago and have raised $10,000 every year," he said.
Mr. Macphail returned to marathon running in 2010 when he ran the New York Marathon with two of his daughters, Emily and Lisa, and his friend, Ralph Swain.
On June 23, Mr. Macphail took on his eighth Rachel Carson Trail Challenge. It was the third time he has raised money for the foundation through the challenge. This year, he added the Pittsburgh Marathon to his fundraising activities for the foundation. He ran the 2011 marathon and raised money for the foundation but did not couple it with the Rachel Carson fundraiser.
"My earlier [Rachel Carson challenges] were for another charitable cause, The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania," he said.
According to Mr. Macphail, his campaign funds come from about 100 individual donors.
His goal is not only to raise funds for education, support programs and research but to create awareness of inflammatory bowel disease.
"It is a silent disease rarely talked about openly. However, that is changing," he said.
Of the two events, the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, which covers about 35 miles of trails and roads from Harrison Hills Park to North Park, is much harder, Mr. Macphail said.
"Take a marathon, add 8 miles, midday summer heat and over 7,000 feet of elevation changes, and you have Rachel," he said with a chuckle.
First Published July 6, 2012 12:00 am