Haley Schweitzer had a legendary athletic career as a star lacrosse player at St. Mark’s High School and later at John Hopkins.
Like a lot of world-class athletes brimming with energy, the pandemic quarantine has the 24-year old feeling cooped up.
Back home in Wilmington studying for her boards to become a physician assistant, Schweitzer had planned to run her first marathon in March in Washington. When that was canceled, she took it upon herself to run the 26+ miles along the C&D Canal in Delaware.
Now the multi-time All-American and former professional player with the Philadelphia Fire is combining her urge to exercise with a longstanding interest in supporting an underserved community in Harlem, New York.
Beginning this morning at 6am, Schweitzer began running an unusual multi-location marathon on local turf – she’ll bank one mile per hour for a 26-hour period.
Schweitzer’s route will include one-mile increments along Limestone Road, Paper Mill Park, Carousel Park, the Ridge Neighborhood, Berkshire neighborhood, Delcastle Park, parking lots and a track around Hockessin Athletic Club (HAC).
She is posting updates for family and friends every hour while raising funds for a city lacrosse program for girls in Harlem. Her previous plans to raise money for the nonprofit, including lots of events, were preempted by the pandemic.
“I’m trying to raise $3,500 for Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership, and I had plans for open bars and lots of other events. But that kind of got cut short (with COVID-19). So I still wanted to raise funds for this group, and I figured I would think of something creative, fun, something to get out of the
house,” she said.
Already Schweitzer has raised $1,400 toward her goal, with donations from 40 friends and family, including former competitors and old friends from other high schools like Salesianum. Her Harlem Lacrosse | New York City Marathon fundraising page can be found here.
“I’ve always wanted to run the New York Marathon in November — that’s always been a huge goal of mine. And you have to fundraise a good amount of money for it. So I wanted to fundraise for something I was really passionate about,” she said.
Historically, the New York City marathon has raised large amounts of money for charities through fundraising by individual runners.
Throughout her 26 hour run, Schweizer is joined step by step by her sister Kendra. They initially thought just the two of them would take part.
But then when Haley posted her fundraiser and asked friends for pledges, several offered to run themselves — some joining her for a particular one-mile run, and others offering to take on the entire 26-mile effort, like Meghan Cobb, another star athlete and lacrosse player who graduated from Tower Hill in 2013.
“A lot of people really just started seeing it on my social media and decided to join in. So throughout the day, I have had like 20 to 30 people — friends from high school and all throughout Delaware — reposting their runs today,” said Schweizer. “They got out, went for a run, donated, and tagged me.
“And then I was even fortunate enough to have one of my friends who I knew from high school, Meghan Cobb, she was like, ‘I’ll do it too — the whole 26-mile run. I’ll start now.'” That was at 9 am today.
“I was so inspired by my friend Haley to run 26 miles in 26 hours. It’s given me the chance to reconnect with her and remember our memories of high school lacrosse. But it’s also given us the chance to help a younger generation of lacrosse players,” said Cobb.
We caught up with Schweitzer today at HAC seven miles into her marathon, where a small band of supporters decided to tag along with Haley’s run on the shady trails. Stephanie Clatworthy and her daughter Naomi were joined by her friends Lindsay Sawyer and Shane Lougheed and Haley’s sister Kendra and brother Rhett — all happy to jog and motivate Haley to get through another mile.
Several friends tagged Haley throughout the day on their Instagram pages, letting her know where they had run, what their times were, and pitching in to help the cause.
“Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership is really near and dear to me. We adopted the program at Johns Hopkins and basically they target the most at-risk students. Studies show that these kids have a 10% GPA increase over non-athletes and 90% of them end up going to college,” said Schweitzer. “We also fundraise scholarships for them to go to boarding school and play on club teams to get recruited.”
$3,500 puts one student through the program.