The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 31, 2013

Person of the Week: Racing to find a cure: Charter school sophomore takes the lead for Wings of Hope event

JOHNSTOWN — In the long run, Ben Mostoller and other volunteers believe a cure for cancer will be found.

But in the meantime, Ben and other runners will fight the disease by lacing their sneakers and running in the sixth annual Wings of Hope 5K Run/Walk, which is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. April 20 at

The Grove in Westmont.

The event has raised more than $40,000 so far to help local families in need battle cancer.

Ben, who turns 16 on April 8, has been helping to organize the event for months.

On race day, he will help to set up for the race and help to register runners and walkers from 8 to 8:45 a.m.

Ben has been volunteering on race day and running in the race since the event’s inception.

“This year, I am doing this for my senior project,” he said. “That’s why I am more involved in the event.”

Ben currently is a sophomore at the Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School.

“It’s important to help people who are struggling with cancer,” said Ben, a Richland Township resident. “It’s important to help people in our own community because they are our neighbors.”

By the many people who run in the race and the numerous volunteers and sponsors, cancer patients can see that there are many people who care about them, he said.

The event also is a family affair for Ben.

His mother, Susan, volunteers alongside him each year. And this year, his family will field a team for the race.

In addition to raising money for the event, the team also is raising money to help a family member who is battling cancer, he said.

In addition to Ben, other team members are his mother; father, Chad; sister, Julia; and relatives who hail from as far as Virginia.

Ben also runs in the Wings of Hope Great Santa Run at Christmastime and in other charitable races.

For his efforts, Ben is the Person of the Week.

Tina Honkus, who founded Wings of Hope to remember her late mother, Evelyn Miller, who died of cancer, and to help the community, said putting on the event requires many volunteers.

“Ben has been a volunteer for several years,” Honkus said. “We were very excited when Ben volunteered to take a leading role in the organization of our event as his school project,” she said.

“We believe the youth of our community are our future, and it’s exciting to see them step up and take on these projects.”

The fee to race in the event is $20 if

paid by April 10 and $25 thereafter, including race day.

For additional information or to register, visit

Inside The Grove on race day, students at Miller Martial Arts in Richland Township will donate their time to put on martial arts demonstrations.

Refreshments also will be available inside The Grove.

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