A New Jersey man will complete his four-month run across the country to raise awareness for the need for organ donations Monday, Sept. 24 when he reaches the Atlantic Ocean, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center representatives said Friday afternoon, Sept. 21.
Chris Praetzel, of Mullica Hill in Gloucester County, began his run May 23 in Santa Monica California after dipping his toes into the Pacific Ocean, AtlantiCare representatives said. He said he will complete his trek, which he calls the “Brotherly Love Run,” by diving into the Atlantic Ocean.
By that time, he will have run more than 3,000 miles. He has already gone through 11 pairs of sneakers.
He began the run in honor of his brother, Brian, who had a kidney transplant in 1996, according to AtlantiCare officials. Brian Praetzel needed the transplant because he was born with hypoplastic kidneys, according to AtlantiCare representatives.
“From birth, the doctors gave Brian little hope for survival,” Chris Praetzel said in a release. “Luckily, doctors were able to find a match for Brian’s kidney and with a successful transplant he was able to live.”
Born in 1992, Brian Praetzel received his new kidney four years later. The Praetzel Family has been gracious ever since, illustrated by Chris Praetzel’s run across the country.
“The concept for the Brotherly Love Run was to run across America for organ donor awareness,” Praetzel said. “For more than two years, this idea has been stuck in my mind daily.”
Praetzel began his run five days after graduating from Arcadia University University in Glenside, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Psychology, AtlantiCare officials said.
Along the way, he’s camped in a tent and stayed with friends and people he met along the way, according to AtlantiCare officials. He’s seen the Mojave Desert, where he ran at night to avoid extreme heat. He’s also seen the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains.
He also spoke with others in need of organ transplants.
“Learning about people who decided to become donors after meeting me or hearing my story is some is something that really can’t be measured in the miles I ran. I finally feel like I’ve made a difference,” Praetzel said. “I was especially grateful for the kindness of strangers I met along the way. They offered their homes to me so I could have a place to sleep and shower. They also shared meals with me.”
Praetzel was scheduled to reach Philadelphia Friday night, and will rest over the weekend before beginning the final portion of his run, at approximately 7:40 Monday morning at 3800 English Creek Avenue in Egg Harbor Township, according to AtlantiCare representatives. His final route will take him down English Creek Avenue to the Black Horse Pike, which he will follow through Egg Harbor Township, into Pleasantville and back into Egg Harbor Township, according to AtlantiCare representatives. He will continue down the Black Horse Pike into Atlantic City. Once in Atlantic City, he’ll pick up Albany Avenue, where he will meet his brother Brian at the boardwalk.
At that point, the two brothers will run together to Michigan Avenue and the boardwalk where they’ll enter the beach and run to the Atlantic Ocean, according to AtlantiCare representatives. They will be met by family, friends and representatives from the Gift of Life Donor Program and AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center.
AtlantiCare’s Food and Nutrition team will prepare a steak meal for Praetzel, to be served by AtlantiCare physicians, staff and administration around 11:30 a.m.
“As a Regional Trauma Center, we witness the generosity of individuals and their families who make the lifesaving gift by choosing donation,” AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Clinical Director of Critical Care Pam Peterson, RN said. “We applaud Chris for his commitment to raising awareness about the importance of organ donation and for paying the gift to his brother forward.”
“I am deeply touched,” Brian Praetzel, now 19, said. “I truly hope that the Brotherly Love Run will accomplish its goal of spreading awareness for organ donation and inspiring people all over the world to become registered donors. I’m proud of Chris and I love him.”
ted States. If you or a loved one have a touching story, please feel free to share, and pass this page to your friends. Write on our wall if you have registered to become an organ donor in the past, or as a result of this event. For more information on organ and tissue donation, please call Gift of Life at 1-800-DONORS-1 (1-800-366-6771) or visit at www.donors1.org.