ALTON, IL -- Dan Pohlman is a runner. He is also a fighter. Dan is currently involved in a fight to ensure that he continues to be a runner.

Dan, 53, the husband of Alton Memorial Hospital nurse Deb Pohlman, was diagnosed in early October with neuro-endocrine carcinoma, a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Giving up was never considered an option, so family and friends are having a benefit called the Dash4Dan 5K in Bethalto, Ill., on Sunday, Dec. 16.

The 5K run through Bethalto begins at 1:10 p.m. that day at the Village Park near the Police Department, with an entry fee of $25 through Dec. 9 and $30 from Dec. 10 through race day. All the proceeds will go to Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis for pancreatic cancer research and to help Dan’s family with medical expenses.

“I’ve accepted this and will do my best to battle this disease,” Dan said. “I don’t plan on going anywhere. It’s a cross that God has given me. But no matter what happens to me, we want to do something so that other families don’t have to go through this.”

Deb Pohlman has been a nurse for 34 years and has been at Alton Memorial the past two years. She has been amazed – though not necessarily surprised – to see the response so far.

“Anyone who has known Dan will talk about his amazing spirit, his cheerful attitude and his willingness to help others,” Deb says. “There are limited treatment options for this, but his friends rallied around him immediately. Dan has always been an avid runner, so what better way to raise money than a 5K run?”

Dan’s twin brother, Doug, is co-owner of the Missouri Running Company in St. Louis, which puts on several running events in addition to selling shoes and other running apparel. Registration for the Dash4Dan 5K can be done at the Missouri Running Company’s location at 606 North & South Road in University City, Mo., by calling the store at 314-727-4786 or by visiting www.onestoprace.com.

“Everyone has been so generous,” Dan says. “People know us in Bethalto, probably because I used to run 15 miles each morning around town. They are just coming out of the woodwork with raffles, bake sales and everything else for the run. We’re hoping to have Santa and Fredbird there, and maybe David Freese or some of the Blues players if we can get them.

“And this is something we don’t want to do just once. I will head this up until the day I’m gone. The idea is to help other people going through this.”

Dan says his biggest concern is for his wife, their children and his mother, Mary. A younger brother, Mike, died suddenly six years ago and Dan’s father, George, died just a few months later.

“It’s very difficult for my mom,” he said. “But I’m receiving excellent medical care and it’s all in God’s hands. We’re going to have some fun on Dec. 16 and raise some money. It’s going to be a great day.”

The 5K run will have awards for the overall male and female winners, plus eight separate age group winners. Direct cash donations can also be made payable to Dash4Dan 5K at US Bank, #1 Airport Plaza, Bethalto, IL, 62010.

“Dan has been told he can no longer run, so we are asking everyone to ‘Dash4Dan,’” Deb said. “He is my best friend and I want him around a lot longer.”

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