YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Self-described Disney fanatic Josh Avery went all the way to Orlando to raise money for the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley.
Josh ran some 5Ks and even a half-marathon before but to mark his 30th birthday, he decided to challenge himself with a 26.2-mile journey.
“I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon,” he said. “I just love Disney, I love Walt Disney. Reading about him and getting inspired by him.”
Josh, an instructor at the Rescue Mission, runs the Discipleship Academy which teaches a group of men about how to grow spiritually. He said some of them gave up jobs and apartments to live at the Rescue Mission and participate in the Academy.
“[The Discipleship Academy] didn’t have a fund set up, so I decided to run for something that had never been run for, that Academy fund.”
The Rescue Mission’s Lynn Wyant, who nominated Josh for Hometown Hero, supported Josh in his efforts.
“I thought, this is great! I don’t know if he could do it, but this is great!”
Josh admitted he wasn’t the best runner on his high school track team.
“I was horrible. I always came in last place.”
When he announced he’d be running his first marathon, even his sister, Alisha Brownlee, was taken aback. She wasn’t surprised he’d be running to support a cause close to his heart, though.
“Probably one of the most caring persons I know,” Alisha said.
Training for a marathon is something you can’t do without support from home.
“Half of the medal belongs to [my wife, Carissa,] because of the reality of how much work she put in into preparing for that marathon,” Josh said.
He quickly reached his goal of $1,000, and the money kept rolling in like miles in the marathon.
“It’s not just me doing this, it’s us that have done this,” Josh said. “We raised $9,550 specifically for the guys in here, in the Discipleship Academy, so we can go out and do some things in the community.”
The group will use some of the money to catch a movie, go on a camping retreat, and start a new runner’s club at the Rescue Mission.
Lynn said it was great to see him finish with so many cheering him on.
“He’s the hero and he has a bunch of heroes behind him.”