Burbank man runs the distance for a cause

Burbank resident Roy Wiegand runs part of his 80 mile journey from Anaheim through Burbank to Santa Clarita in 2014.

Burbank resident Roy Wiegand runs part of his 80 mile journey from Anaheim through Burbank to Santa Clarita in 2014.

(Libby Cline / Burbank Leader)

Running about 131 miles may be difficult, but what’s important to Burbank resident Roy Wiegand isn’t the distance. For him, the trek is about getting people talking about a topic that he thinks is not addressed enough.

For the past three years, Wiegand, 52, a long-distance runner, has run across Los Angeles and Orange counties to raise money for pediatric cancer.

In the past, he has run from Angeles Stadium in Anaheim to Santa Clarita and from the Children’s Hospital of Orange County to the Burbank Tennis Center with a stop at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles along the route.

However, Wiegand will be facing his toughest challenge yet for the worthy cause. His first run was about 85 miles, and the one last year was just over 100.

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On Friday, he will start his run at the Burbank Tennis Center and make a stop at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Children’s Hospital of Orange County before heading back to Burbank.

Proceeds from the event will be given to the Michael Hoefflin Foundation for Children’s Cancer in honor of Christopher Wilke, a 12-year-old Burbank boy who passed away in March 2014 after battling a rare cancer of the bile duct. Wiegand hopes to raise $16,000 this weekend.

Wiegand may be adding more miles to his charity run, but his goal remains the same.

“It’s a personal challenge to run that many miles, but I think of those kids as I’m running,” he said. “What those kids in that hospital are going through, what Christopher went through, it really puts things into perspective …When you plan something like this, hopefully it’s intriguing to people. It starts a dialogue and helps people understand the challenges these families go through.”

Wiegand ran in honor of Christopher last year and decided to run in his memory again. Christopher was in the same Boy Scout troop in Burbank to which Wiegand’s son belonged, but the two families were never that close, Wiegand said.

However, Christopher’s battle with cancer made an impact on Wiegand. When Christopher passed away after about 21/2 months of being diagnosed with cancer, Wiegand took it upon himself to raise money and awareness about pediatric cancer.

“Pediatric cancer [research] is very underfunded,” he said. “When it’s time to donate, most people will donate to cancers that they’ve heard of or people in their family have had. Pediatric cancer is very rare, but people don’t know of families whose child has cancer.”


Twitter: @acocarpio