He ran. And ran. And ran.

It has been a pleasure watching Tony Anderson check off milestones in his decade-plus marathon effort to complete a 26.2-mile race in each state plus the District of Colombia.

Fifty-one races.

The physical and mental accomplishment alone is something to behold, something that for years has held us in awe. That’s 1,336.2 miles run in races alone. And anyone who knows a marathoner will know the race miles are simply the snowcaps on mountains of training runs on the way to that peak.

The task meant Anderson had to carve out time from friends and family. It meant spending time away from work on grueling runs, not recuperation. It meant the 58-year-old general manager for Cherryland Electric Cooperative had to overcome arthritis so bad a few years ago he had to undergo a total hip replacement surgery.

But it was the motivation behind all that time, effort, even pain, that makes us stand and applaud Anderson.

Anderson’s final steps across the finish line of a 26.2-mile course stretching from the Manistee River to Traverse City on May 3 were driven by commitment to a cause. Years ago, he made a pledge to run his marathon of marathons in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Michigan. He wanted to raise $1 million for the organization that pairs local at-risk children with adult volunteers who offer them support and guidance.

By the morning of his final race, Anderson had raised $750,000, an enormous mark to match an equally momentous task.

Anderson’s attachment to the Bigs’ mission is a personal one — he has written in his Marathon 4 Kids blog about growing up after his father died in a car crash at 28. He has used his time in the spotlight time to advocate for caring adults to show up for children who desperately need their support.

Such commitment to a local cause seems almost routine in a community so strong as ours. Traverse City is chock full of committed volunteers and advocates who step up with yeoman’s work to serve their neighbors in the Grand Traverse region. That’s why Anderson’s effort stands out as particularly impressive.

Observing our marathon man’s decade-plus run has not only been impressive, it’s inspirational. It makes us want to live up to such an effort. It makes us want to redouble our efforts to make the place we live better for all who live here.

Most of all, it makes us thankful to live in such a special place, filled with people, like Anderson, who go the extra mile to make our community strong.

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