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WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 17, 2011, 08:38 AM

Marathon runners honor the legacy of a West Fargo girl who died while waiting for a lung transplant

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - When thousands of runners take to Fargo-Moorhead streets this weekend, several charities in town will benefit from the tired feet and sore knees. More than 30-people are already signed up to honor the legacy of a 14-year old West Fargo girl who died while waiting for a lung transplant. It's a story we have followed for 7-years, and still, the short life of Alexa Kersting continues to make a difference.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

When you spot Steve Schaefer training for the upcoming half marathon, it is hard not to notice, he's running with an angel. He is on team: Alexa's Hope. The beautiful 14-year old from West Fargo, who despite a valiant fight to get a lung transplant, died waiting.

MONICA KERSTING - Alexa's Mom: “You know a wonderful way to spread the word and encourage people to become donors.”

And so this weekend, Steve and many others will take part in the ever growing charity runner program during the marathon. Alexa's parents who have now traveled the country with their daughter's story and need for organ donors, say the race is a way to honor the brave girl who never gave up.

LOREN KERSTING - Alexa's Dad: “No doubt this is the right thing to do. We would give anything to have Alex back but at least her memory stays strong with us.”

Monica: “We never planned to go down this road but it is something I have to do want to do and it gives me something to do with the grief.”

And Schafer knows what this is all about. Two years ago, he donated a kidney to a co-workers husband. Someone he did not know.

STEVE SCHAEFER - Charity Runner: “Humbling, gratifying and I stay in touch with Todd who received my kidney. And so it is a new friendship on a new level.”

And so this weekend, many charities will have runners bringing in money for their cause, but when you see these T-shirts, know there is not only an angel on their chests. But the spirit from another angel is guiding them all across the finish line. It is carrying on her memory, her legacy.

Close to 700-people will run for charity this weekend which will benefit more than 30 organizations.

With just days to spare, the marathon director is asking for a late surge of volunteers. Mark Knutson says they need 100 more volunteers to sign up for Saturday. To entice nonprofit groups, the marathon will donate 4 dollars per volunteer hour. The volunteers would help with much needed traffic control.

MARK KNUTSON - Marathon Director: “The different intersections that are out there right now are manned with one person, but we really need 2 people at each intersection if something happens it's hard for one person to stop 2 cars coming from different angles.”

If you want to volunteer you can call 1-888-RUN-FARGO.

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