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Minnesota man runs 266 miles for 'Love Like Laurie' cancer charity

Mark Dowdle is running from Fargo, North Dakota to Stillwater, Minnesota for families who have been touched by cancer.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Laurie Weber was known for being a fighter, but in 2016 she was challenged with the fight of her life.

After visiting her doctor, Laurie was diagnosed with Stage 2 pancreatic cancer.

"She started out with the most aggressive chemotherapy cocktail that's allowed by U.S. law," said John Weber, her husband. "That was to shrink the tumor enough so that the surgery that was to follow would be easier."

After surgery, she was technically considered cancer-free, but nine months later, the cancer came back. This time, more aggressive, eventually spreading to her cervix.

"She never really felt sorry for herself. And if she did, she didn't let us know," said John.

In 2019, Laurie's husband decided to start a clothing brand called Love Like Laurie.

Love Like Laurie served many purposes. It helped the family financially through clothing sales, updated everyone on Laurie's health and progress, but most of all, it was a way to put a smile on Laurie's face.

Mark Dowdle, a friend of the family wanted to take the support for Laurie even further. So he asked if he could run from Duluth to St. Paul to raise money for her.

"It was a combination of something that I'm passionate about and combining it with people that I love like the Webers," said Dowdle.

But Laurie said she wasn't taking another dollar from anyone. The community had already helped her so much.

John immediately came up with an idea.

"We're gonna do your run, but we're doing it for charity," he said.

That was when the nonprofit Love Like Laurie Legacy was born. A way for the Weber family to give back what so many generous people gave to them. 

Laurie's entire cancer journey took just over four years.

In August of 2020, Laurie passed away surrounded by her family.

Credit: Weber Family

On Wednesday, Sept. 29, Mark will run from Fargo, ND to Stillwater, MN, 266 miles to keep Laurie's legacy alive.

"It's really about transcending pain into a hopeful future," he said.

Two hundred and forty miles in there will be a Love Like Laurie 5K in St. Paul where people can run the rest of the way with Mark.

Dowdle raised around $22,000 for the charity over his four-day run.