Ultra runner Jerry Schuster calls himself a glutton for punishment: Standard 26.2-mile marathons just aren't long enough for him.
On Saturday, July 29, he'll be doing a 12-hour run starting at 8 a.m. in order to raise money and awareness for No More Deaths
, a humanitarian organization that works to reduce the deaths and suffering along the U.S./Mexico border.
The 62-year-old teacher has been on the ultra-long distance scene for years, participating in events like the Arizona 6-Day Race in Douglas. But at a certain point, he decided that, if he was going to be running dozens and dozens of miles anyway, he might as well do it for a cause. Many of the students that he works with are of Hispanic descent; he said they sometimes share disheartening stories about family members being pulled over or racially profiled.
"I'm hearing all of this hate-filled rhetoric against people with different backgrounds," he said.
This isn't the first time Schuster has done a run for a cause. He's done several 48-hour runs around the UA campus in support of refugees. When a major earthquake hit Nepal in 2015, he worked with the university's Nepalese Student Foundation to do a 24-hour run around Fourth Avenue. Though it was put together quickly and received little media exposure, the run still raised $2,500, simply from people coming up to the students at their table and asking what was going on.
This "do the damn thing" approach is historically Schuster's style. Rather than collecting per-mile or per-hour pledges, he just starts running and hopes it will get people's attention.
"The way that I envision the fundraising effort is to make use of the system already there," he said. "Why invent the wheel when they already have something that works?"
Schuster said he had several motivators for wanting to make a difference in immigration reform. He spoke about a friend, a fellow runner, who used to live in Douglas. While out on long training runs, he was frequently hassled by border patrol agents, even though he was a U.S. citizen. During World War II, some of Schuster's Jewish great aunts and uncles died in Auschwitz. He said he sees parallel treatment of immigrants today.
"When I hear about things like these raids
along the border, it starts setting alarm bells off in my head," he said. "History has a way of repeating itself."
If you want to support No More Deaths, you can make a contribution here.