Praetzel Embarks on Coast-to-Coast Run

By Purnell T. Cropper | June 8, 2012

By Chris Macchi ’12

Chris Praetzel ’12 arrived on campus in August 2008 destined to make a splash. Four years later, having earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sports Psychology, he has embarked on a new journey. A week after delivering an inspirational speech to his classmates at their graduation ceremony, he started a cross country run—more than 3,000-miles—to raise organ donation awareness.

The aptly named Brotherly Love Run is inspired by Praetzel’s younger brother, Brian, who received a life-saving kidney transplant in 1996. Praetzel sees the run as an opportunity to challenge himself and to raise awareness about organ donation. He plans to finish the run, which began May 23 on the Santa Monica Pier in California, in mid-October by diving into the ocean in Atlantic City, N.J.

“There are over 100,000 people waiting on organ transplants and over 19 die per day. If more people registered, this could be reduced in the future,” notes Praetzel on his Brotherly Love Run blog. “This was never a matter of wanting to do a run across America and not having a reason to do so. It was always one complete thought: to do this for organ donation.”

Praetzel is armed only with a jogging stroller to carry his gear (a tent, food supplies and a few other items) and a support letter from his church “to show the legitimacy of the run and to get any support, such as a place to sleep.”

Running solo across the United States might seem like a monumental task reserved only for elite long-distance runners, but those who know Praetzel are not surprised by his latest undertaking. Often spoken of by peers as “the most inspirational person I’ve ever met,” Praetzel is a fountain of motivational insights. More importantly, he leads by example and maintains a positive attitude. Praetzel has served the Arcadia University community as Resident Assistant, Student Orientation Leader and Senior Class President. Regarding the latter, he says: “I ran for President because I wanted to make a difference. I feel that I represented the values and spirit of the Class of 2012 and wanted to use that to provide a fun and rewarding senior year.”

Praetzel’s leadership will continue long after the completion of the Brotherly Love Run. As a senior at Arcadia, he interned with the Center for Sport Psychology, which provided valuable experience in the field he loves. Ultimately, Praetzel hopes to work for a professional sports team or other elite athletes.

With the final words of his Arcadia University Undergraduate Commencement speech, Praetzel solidified his legacy as a campus leader by offering one final piece of inspiration before stepping off the stage:

I wish each of you the strength to turn your life into what you desire—and the meaning to allow yourself the ability to rise each morning with enthusiasm and happiness, to seek improvement in yourself, and also the world around you.

Photo by Josh Blustein