Eric Schneider, now a 19-year-old sophomore at the South Dakota School of Mines, in a tribute to Henry Schueler, recently decided to link his love of ultra-running into a fundraising effort to benefit the Henry Schueler 41 & 9 Foundation. It’s a poignant nod to the friendship he formed with Henry years ago.

Eric has ties to the Schueler family that go way back. Eric’s mother and Henry’s mom, Sue, went to elementary school together and the families spent vacation time together years ago during July 4th holidays. When Henry died in 2007 from a fungal infection caused by his fight against acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Eric was only nine years old. As a young child, Eric fondly remembers Henry and really looked up to him. “He was always the nicest one to me, into sports like me and a great kid,” he said. “I distinctly remember thinking that I wanted to be just like Henry and when he died, it hit me hard.”

Running has always been an effective way for Eric to stay active and deal with stress and he expanded his interest to include ultra-marathons, which are any races longer than the traditional 26.2 mile marathon length. “Once I completed my first 108-mile run as a dare as a junior in high school, I was hooked,” he explained.

This year, Eric decided to train for August’s “Lean Horse 100 Mile” race in South Dakota and said he wanted to make it truly special by attaching a Henry Schueler 41 & 9 Foundation fundraiser to it as a nod to his friend. He started a CrowdRise online fundraising page, spread the word on Facebook and Twitter and asked friends and family to reach out with support.  His effort was met with incredible success, and while Eric is still tallying up the total donations, he expects to present the Foundation with a check for approximately $2,200.

Unfortunately, just after the 55-mile marker of the race, Eric stepped on the curb wrong and partially tore his meniscus, causing him to drop out at the 56.6-mile aid station. That didn’t stop his enthusiasm for running, however and he said, “People supported me and my fundraising throughout and I can’t wait to do another race.”