PSU junior to run for liver foundation

Before last fall, Penn State junior Dan Moynagh wasn’t all that serious about running. Now he’s planning to take on 26.2 hilly miles in the prestigious Boston Marathon, all to support Americans afflicted with liver disease.

While 27 Centre Countians are preparing to run the marathon April 21 to raise money for Centre Volunteers in Medicine, other causes are also receiving support through the marathon.

Moynagh, who hails from the Boston suburbs, is one of 245 teammates running to raise money for the American Liver Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes liver health and disease prevention through research, education and advocacy for those affected by liver disease, including hepatitis.

Almost 20 percent of Americans have fatty liver disease, a byproduct of obesity in children and adults, and more than 15,000 children are hospitalized every year with a form of liver disease.

Prior to joining the marathon team, Moynagh said, he ran casually for fitness but didn’t compete in races. But in September, his older brother helped him connect with the Boston branch of the American Liver Foundation.

While most runners have to finish another marathon within a certain time to qualify for the Boston Marathon, foundation team members need only to agree to raise money for the foundation.

It was Moynagh’s avenue into the race.

“Being from Boston, it’s always been a lifelong goal to run a marathon,” Moynagh said.

So far, Moynagh’s raised about $3,000 and learned a lot about liver disease.

“It’s a very far-reaching disease,” he said. “I didn’t know much about it until I joined the team.”

Because he signed up for the team far enough in advance, Moynagh said, he was able to ease himself into a training program and gradually increase his mileage. His longest run so far has been 20 miles, he said, and he is confident going into the marathon.

“If I’m able to finish it and finish it under four hours, that’s a pretty reasonable goal,” Moynagh said.