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CA man runs through Somerset Co. to raise awareness for rare disease

SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa. -- On Tuesday, a man, his buggy and an American flag were seen traveling along Stoystown Road in Somerset County. It's all part of a cross-country journey by a California man who's hoping to raise awareness for children suffering from a rare and incurable brain disease.

"There could be a cure out there," said Noah Coughlan. "There's only been so much research and funding so I couldn't think of anything bigger than going coast to coast."

For the second time in an many years Coughlan is running across the country -- 3,100 miles from his hometown near San Francisco to Boston, MA.

"Sixteen states, nine mountain ranges, three deserts and four time zones," explained Coughlan.

6 News caught up with him in Somerset County Tuesday on day 95 of his 106 day journey.

"I am very tired and sore, but there's no lack of inspiration," said Coughlan. "These kids motivate me to keep going."

Kids like Naomi from Altoona, a little girl, like hundreds of others, battling a rare genetic brain disorder called Battens disease.

"The enzyme in the brain that eliminates the toxins is not active, so the waste builds up," said Coughlan. "Over time they lose sight, speech, motor skills, cognitive loss, there's seizures. It's pretty much one of the worst childhood diseases out there."

His goal is to raise awareness, and he's doing it one day at a time.

"If they live in the local area I'm coming through, they contact me and I'll run a day for their child," said Coughlan. "I wear a different T-shirt every day."

Just a man and the open road, with everything he needs stuffed into a small cart he pushes in front of him.

"I have some protein bars, Gatorade, water, a flightlight, sweatshirts, some shoes and of course the flag," said Coughlan. "This is with me from the Pacific Ocean all the way to Atlantic Ocean. I thought it was appropriate because I'm proud to be an American."

It's an impossible journey for most that Coughlan is about to achieve for the second time.

"It's just the idea of running across America," said Coughlan. "It seems impossible but it's one day at a time."

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times