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What A Feat: 24 Hours Around The Village Green

2.5 from 4 votes
Tuesday, June 07, 2011

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At 11 a.m. Saturday morning, Jeff McGonnell pressed a button on his watch and set off on the first of nearly 600 or so laps around the Davidson Village Green in a run he’s calling "24 Hour Loopy for a Cause".

By around 3 p.m. he had gone 18 miles. By 5:30 a.m. Sunday, he was at 66 miles. When he finished up at 11 a.m. Sunday, he had 85 miles behind him.

Mr. McGonnell, who lives in Davidson's McConnell neighborhood, was running to to raise money and awareness about Batten Disease. He took up the cause after learning about Brandon and Jeremy Hawkins of Concord, friends of his son’s who were diagnosed with the rare disease in 2006.

The boys' father, Chris Hawkins, was part of Mr. McGonnell's support crew for the whole 24 hours.

"Jeff has been involved with several of our fund-raisers," Mr. Hawkins said. When Mr. McGonnell suggested a 24-hour run, "I thought he was crazy. That's where we got the idea for 24 hours of Loopy."

Jeff McGonnell finally got to sit down with Chris Hawkins after 11 a.m. Sunday. In the end, the event raised more than $6,000 in donations for the Batten Disease Support and Research Association.

Mr. Hawkins said about 500 to 600 U.S. children are affected by Batten's Disease, which is an inherited disorder of the nervous system. It starts with minor symptoms such as slow learning and clumsiness and eventually causes mental impairment, seizures and blindness. There's currently no cure and the disease is fatal.

This weekend is international Batten Disease Awareness Weekend, the event in Davidson is part of a global effort to promote awareness, Mr. Hawkins said.

He said he is deeply grateful for Mr. McGonnell's efforts. "To just give up a weekend, or day, 24 hours of your life, to do something like this... I can't put it into words," Mr. Hawkins said.

Local musicians played live music on the Green all day Saturday and into Saturday night. Mr. McGonnell kept running overnight, sometimes with friends, passersby, or members of the Davidson Area Running Team. Mr. McGonnell took donations as he ran. Some passersby paid him to run in crazy wigs, skirts, company logo T-shirts and other getups. Others got in on the act, too: On Saturday night, one Davidson woman ran along with Mr. McGonnell dressed in a cow suit - her sister made a donation to the cause just to see the sight.

In the end, the event raised more than $6,000 for The Batten Disease Support and Research Association. Find out more at

Incredibly, Mr. McGonnell was already thinking ahead to a second annual 24-hour run next year, maybe with a twist. "I think we should do a relay," he said.

24 Hour Loopy for a Cause was sponsored in part by the Town of Davidson and BirdNest Music on Main Street.


© 2011 WFAE 90.7 FM

Author: David Boraks
Source: WFAE 90.7
2.5 from 4 votes
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