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Priest prepares to run Boston Marathon for a special cause

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Rebecca Cashman; Caroline Powers

Hartford, CT -- Thousands of runners from across the nation will gather in Bean Town the 122nd Boston Marathon, including some residents from Connecticut.

While many people run the prestigious race as a personal accomplishment, others run for special charities.

Channel 3 Sports Reporter, Caroline Powers spoke with a priest from Hartford, who said he is a on a special mission to make this marathon his best one yet.

Father Ryan Lerner told Channel 3 Sports that he thinks of three things each time he laces up.

"Get through in one piece, glorify God, and in some way make it an offering for others," said Father Lerner.

An avid runner, 37-year-old Father Lerner said he ran track and cross country in high school, then he ran at Trinity College and stayed on as an assistant coach.

But, he said, at 28 years old, he said a message from God came calling.

"That was after college, after graduate school, working for a couple years, when I went to St. Joseph's in Yonkers and then Catholic U for the four years," said Father Lerner.

And in 2014, Father Lerner became an ordained priest.

Most of his days include mass, working as a secretary to the Archbishop and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Hartford, but he said he always makes time to run.

"My running itself, I consider a gift from God. I'm grateful for it and to still be able to do something like this is very rewarding for me," described Father Lerner.

His accomplishment of running the Boston Marathons will make eight marathons for the priest.

"As a qualified runner, I want to run a certain time. It would be awesome if I could break three hours. That would be great. We'll see what happens," said Father Lerner.

But, his hour of running a day, is not simply just to stay fit, Father Lerner uses the hour to clear his mind and pray.

"The last 20 minutes of every run is the rosary. For me it's keeping my head together, getting ready for the day in prayer."

For this Marathon, Father Lerner said he is running for "The Hole in the Wall Gang" Camp, founded by Actor Paul Newman in the 1980s for children who are sick to let go and have fun.

"It's giving them a camp experience in the summer to be around other kids and people like themselves and with the kind of staff that can support them and cheer them on," said Father Lerner, with a smile.

"Raise a little hell as I think Paul Newman says in his description of it."

Father Lerner said he reminds himself that while running 26.2 miles is daunting, it pales in comparison to the challenges these children are facing.

"Kind of scariness of running a marathon and knowing your body is going to break down and it's going to be painful, and it's going to be mentally taxing," describes Father Lerner.

"But then what I'm thinking of is these kids, every single day, are up against these insurmountable obstacles."

WFSB

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