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Student set on raising money for his teacher's son

February 27, 2011


Nestor ZavalaNestor Zavala’13, an international relations and Spanish major, is training for a grueling 50K run. Not for the superhuman strength aspect, or to impress anyone, but to raise money for a little boy named Max

Max, the son of Zavala’s high school teacher, has Restrictive Cardiomyopathy and Seckel Syndrome. He was not expected to live beyond six months; today Max is six years old.

“Sometimes Mrs. Lappe had to miss class because Max was very sick and she had to [take him to the] doctor,” Zavala remembers. “It was obvious that she was suffering from watching her son grow up ill.”

Zavala—who hails from Beloit—says he was inspired by the Lappes’ dedication to keeping Max healthy, and knows the medical care required is expensive. Once Zavala decided to raise money for Max, the next step was deciding how to do it. Claiming he’s “not a very talented person,” Zavala chose to draw upon his history as a runner and created “I Run For Max” In hopes of raising $4,000, he will complete the Ice Age 50K race in La Grange, Wis. on May 14.

The 31-mile course covers a mixture of flat grass and rock track, but Zavala anticipates a larger challenge: not getting lost. “It is our responsibility to know the course beforehand,” he says. “I have gotten lost in 8K cross-country runs before.”

In the meantime, Zavala prepares by eating healthily and adding two miles to his running regimen each week. His longest practice run will be 26 miles the Saturday before the big race. He hopes to raise $4,000 to contribute to Max’s medical bills, like heart checkups and muscle therapy

Just in case Zavala’s dedication and helping Max aren’t incentive enough to solicit donations, Zavala is adding to the deal: If he raises $2,000, he will shave his legs. If the $4,000 goal is met, Zavala will wear a skirt and tank top to class.

“I really hope we can crash that goal, and that people will donate not because they want to see me do these things, but because they want to help Max,” Zavala says.

Zavala has raised $450 from nine donors so far. Businesses that donate to “I Run For Max” will see their names on the shirt Zavala will wear during the race; Beloit College is already on the list to represent the help he’s already received from students and staff members.

“I know that despite Max’s struggles he tries to live a joyful life, and that’s what Mrs. Lappe is trying to provide for him – a life of happiness,” Zavala says. “If he has lived six years when doctors did not even think he would make it to one, I’m hopeful that he can grow up to be old.”

Zavala has set up a website explaining more about Max, and how to donate to the cause.