Get ready to cheer on Doug Flis as he completes his 104-mile run from Grimsby, Ontario, to Ellicottville on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 14.
Flis hopes to further awareness and education about mental illness and to raise funds for Camp New Horizons, a camp for troubled and at-risk youths.
Flis plans to arrive in the heart of the village of Ellicottville on Sept. 14. He invites the youth of the area join him anywhere between the location of the future Tim Hortons (near the blinking light where Route 219 jogs left as you are heading north) and the Ilex Inn. The meeting time will be between approximately 2–4 p.m. (weather depending) for the final push. Flis will be accompanied by a police escort and will finish his run near the intersection of Monroe and Washington streets.
Once in town, Flis and his entourage will travel to the Ilex Inn, where owners Rick and Glenda Jackson, will host a fundraising BBQ event. For Rick Jackson, Flis’s arrival will mark not only the chance to see his old friend but also to bring awareness to mental health issues.
Chicken BBQ tickets are $8 and can be purchased by calling the Ilex Inn at (716) 699-2002. Tickets will also be available the day of the event until they are sold out. In addition to food, there will be a Chinese auction and raffle, and Freddy and Friends will play from 3–6 p.m.
“We’re hoping to raise a ton of money,” Flis said.
A runner since the 1970s, Flis has completed several long-distance runs benefitting charitable organizations in the past 30 years. But it’s mental health issues, specifically those that affect young adults, that may be the cause that concerns him the most.
“Everyone knows someone who has been affected by this issue,” Flis said.
Suicide has become a significant concern in Western New York, and Flis’s run will help raise funds for the Mental Health Association in Cattaraugus County and the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Derric McElheney, director for Camp New Horizons, an organization operated by the Mental Health Association in Cattaraugus County, said it’s his hope that more people talk about the issue and educate themselves about it. He sees a lot of ignorance about mental health issues, especially at summer camps.
Flis will depart from Grimsby, Ontario on Sept. 13 and will run for approximately 30 hours, with only one hour of sleep interrupting his mission. Two years ago, he finished a similar run to Ellicottville to benefit the Ronald McDonald House.
To train for this year’s run, Flis, 63, has completed three 50-mile runs and long sessions on his elliptical machine. In the past, Flis has finished 75 marathons, including the Kona Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii. He’s completed the Boston Marathon six times, helping over 20 people qualify for the marathon. Flis once ran a 115-mile race in 24 hours, one of his most significant accomplishments.
McElheney is looking forward to being at the finish line when Flis arrives. Come cheer for him and the accompanying runners on Saturday afternoon!
If you have further questions about the BBQ event, please call the Jacksons at the Ilex Inn at (716) 699-2002.