Jesse Zweig hoped to run 200 miles, or the equivalent of 7.5 26-mile marathons, over two days to raise money for Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). An iPod, gummy bears, and sheer determination would keep him going.
Family and friends cheered on Jesse, 18, during his run that began Thursday morning at his high school. Jesse's older brother is his biggest booster.
"If you've got five miles left and you're dead," he told Jesse. "I'll throw you up on my shoulders and I'll run you to the finish."
The plan was to run two 100-mile loops around Orange County, finishing the second loop right in front of the family's home.
Jesse's test of endurance ended short of his goal Saturday morning when blisters and cold weather stopped him after 34 hours at the 124-mile mark. Friends and family monitoring Jesse's weight along the way pulled him from the run due to severe risk to his health.
But the young ultramarathoner still raised more than $13,000 for CHOC, estimates Mike Zweig, Jesse's father. While it was short of his $20,000 goal, people from across the nation have called in donations to the hospital after Jesse's effort.
"We're extremely proud of him," Mike Zweig said. "We live in a world where you hear about a lot of adverse things concerning young people, and I think Jesse stands out as a shining example."
Jesse chose to help the kids at the Children's Hospital because "I've been blessed with really good health," he said. "Why not help kids who have been sick and struggling?"
His concern for others doesn't stop there. Jesse, a Mormon, will embark on a two-year mission trip before going to college.