Carlin Long has never forgotten the best friend he lost in high school. Her name was Cynthia Phillipson and they both attended Steubenville Catholic Central High School. They were both talented athletes.
Long became a track star who competed in the mile, 800 meter and 4 x 800 meter relay events. Philippson was a talented basketball player who made the varsity team as a freshman.
One day at practice she collapsed. Her heart stopped beating and she died. Long was devastated.
Long, now 22, and a Duquesne University student majoring in physical therapy, is running the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday. The fact that it’s his first marathon is motivation enough.
However, he’s also running to benefit an organization called Mary’s Meals that Phillipson loved.
The goal of Mary’s Meals is to give a child a meal every day at their place of education. The organization is active in 18 countries feeding over 2.3 million children every day.
Long and others raised enough money in high school — $7,000 a year — to sponsor a kitchen for a school called St. Dominic’s in Bomi, Liberia in Phillipson’s name.
“In order to honor her memory and because she just loved the organization so much, we decided to name this kitchen after her and call it ‘Cynthia’s Kitchen,'” he said.
There are 250 children that attend the school. The money goes to purchasing food from farmers in the local community for those kids.
“A lot of the time volunteers or mothers of the children at the school will make the food and help deliver it,” Long said. “So the idea behind it is: you’re uplifting the entire community along with the children in the school.”
By 2020, enough money had been raised to sponsor a second kitchen in Liberia, which they also named “Cynthia’s Kitchen.”
Long is now involved in raising $12,000 each year to keep both kitchens open. He’s been training hard for the past two years while waiting out the pandemic — all while taking pledges on social media to raise money and, hopefully, completing his first marathon Sunday.
“I’m very excited,” said Long, who has run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in the past. “To get to do it to honor my best friend, who would do anything for me and loved me so much and loved helping others so much, it’s a really rewarding feeling to get to carry her legacy on through this run.
“I’m ready to get to the starting line and see what I can do.”
Long is hoping to finish the Pittsburgh Marathon in less than three hours in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected]