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Illinois Woman Running 6,000 Miles to Her Son in Iraq

Jul. 3, 2009

July 3, 2009 (Utica, NY) — Vivian White was not much of a runner, but her son, Brian Bales, persuaded her to take up the healthy sport as he would train with her for his high school track team.  Now, Army Pfc. Bales is serving overseas, stationed near Kirkuk, Iraq.  White has since dedicated herself to the sport of running to bring him home safely. 

To meet her goal, White has vowed to record 6,436 miles, the distance from her hometown of Charleston, Ill to Kirkuk.  She feels that running helps her be closer to Bales and hopes that, by the time she finishes, her son will return home.  And now, the Boilermaker wants to help her meet that goal.

Earle Reed, founder and president of the Boilermaker Road Race, has offered to bring White and her husband to Utica to assist with her cause.  He would also like to give other Boilermaker runners the chance to contribute to White's mission by donating their 9.3 miles on race day.

"We're very excited about White's dedication to her son and her quest to achieve her goal," Reed said. "We have organized the military run overseas and hope that our assistance for White continues to emphasize our support of the troops. I hope White and her husband enjoy our race and our city."

This past January, Bales was deployed to Iraq for a 1-year assignment.  Now the 20-year-old awaits his return to the States.  When White first came up with the idea and calculated the distance, she realized that she would need to run 130 miles a week by herself.  So she decided to ask for help.  Her family and friends have since begun donating their miles.  After her story ran in Sports Illustrated, running fans across America have chipped in as well.  The Boilermaker wishes to provide a platform for more runners to add their miles.

"We run not only to honor my son," White said on a blog posting, "but for all the soldiers overseas, and for the sacrifices they make every day for our country, our flag, and all of us."  White and her husband Matt will be running in the 15k race on Sunday, July 12 in Utica.

To donate Boilermaker miles to White's mission, send her an email at vbales@consolidated.net.  Please notify her that Boilermaker miles are being contributed.  To read her full story, visit the Sports Illustrated Vault.