Back in 2003, Don Wright paid what he thought would be a routine visit to his physician. He was having a little trouble with his back, but he figured it wasn't anything major — he had recently run his first marathon, after all, and some resulting aches and pains were to be expected.
What Wright didn't expect, however, was the diagnosis his doctor ended up giving him: The then-62-year-old had a rare and incurable blood cancer called multiple myeloma, and his doctor said he wouldn't live more than five years, according to TODAY.
Fast-forward 13 years to a momentous day in Philadelphia on November 20, 2016: Wright, who is now an unprecedented 75 years old, just completed his 100th marathon.
In the years since his diagnosis, Wright has run a marathon in each of the 50 states and then some. He uses the races to raise awareness about cancer treatment options by running in the name of My Life Is Worth It, a nonprofit organization that advocates for patients and their role in the healthcare cost discussion.
The cause of My Life Is Worth It is one that hits close to home for Wright. He credits medical advancements and new, innovative cancer treatments for his unexpected longevity — and the ability to live to meet his grandchild.
"When I head toward the finish line in Philadelphia, I'll be thinking of all those cancer patients still in need of more research and newer treatments," Wright told Philly.com before the race. "We can't hit the wall; we've got to keep pushing medicine forward."
His 100th marathon completed, Wright is heading home to Minnesota with his wife and daughter (who accompany him on every marathon trip). He told Philly.com that he'll continue working on cutting down his race times.
"If I've learned anything from fighting cancer and running all these marathons, it's there's no such thing as a finish line," he wrote in a personal essay for NewsWorks. "Not for me, anyway."