SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Park City resident Matt Cavanaugh is working toward a huge goal: 12 marathons in one year — all with one kidney.
This is part of the 1K12M challenge, sponsored by the National Kidney Registry, where in kidney donors will complete 12 marathons in a year to shatter the misconception that kidney donation imposes physical limits on a person. Cavanaugh, along with another advocate, Sophia Jackson, will be participating in the Salt Lake City Marathon on Saturday, April 22.
“There’s no ceiling on what you can do after you donate,” said Cavanaugh, who is the CEO of the National Kidney Donation Organization.
Jackson is hoping to complete five races this year.
“Matt just completed an ultra-marathon a few short months ago, so nothing holds you back and if we can just let people know and debunk the myth that your life is different, it’s not. If anything, it’s more rewarding,” Jackson said.
Both of them just raced in Atlanta, Georgia and now are back home in Utah getting ready for the Salt Lake City Marathon. Cavanaugh is planning on running the whole 26.2 miles while Jackson will be joining in the 5K.
“This is going to be a fantastic race,” Cavanaugh said.
In 2021, Matt donated his kidney to a complete stranger.
“For me, it was an opportunity to pay back all the unknown people that have given me great things in my life and at a very low risk to myself, I could give someone life. There’s nothing bigger than that,” he said.
He runs to motivate others, showing that you can do anything with one kidney or two.
“I donated my kidney a year and a half ago, and since then, I’ve run more miles than I ever have in my life,” he said.
When Jackson saw on the news that NYPD officer Vadrien Alston needed a kidney, she knew she had to act. Although she wasn’t a match, Jackson donated on Alston’s behalf.
Just weeks after Jackson’s donation, Alston received a kidney. Jackson will be headed to New York after this weekend’s race to meet her for the first time.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to do this, not just for her, but for whoever my kidney went to and to just help advocate for living kidney donation,” she said.
Now, Cavanaugh and Jackson are focused on Saturday’s marathon, where they hope to inspire others.
“Everyone focuses on what gets taken out with kidney donation, what they really often miss is what gets put in and that’s a really positive uplift that you’ve done something good for a fellow person in need,” Cavanaugh said.
When it comes to their next races, Cavanaugh’s will be going to Cincinnati, Ohio, while Jackson will be heading to Denver, Colorado. They will both be at a booth in Salt Lake Palace on Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. if anyone wants to come out and learn more. You can also visit National Kidney Donation Organization and 1K12M.