by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Two of the local runners at the Twin Cities Marathon last Sunday were dedicating their race to a former Elk River classmate with a serious health issue.
Ben Hales, a 1998 ERHS graduate, was recently diagnosed with a rare brain stem disorder called Chiari malformation.
Chad Kreuser, Rogers physical education teacher and cross country coach, and Eric Hanse both ran in support of Hales and his family, said Kreuser, as part of a fundraising effort.
Hales’ illness has “left him out of work and with a stack of medical bills,” said Kreuser, who has set up a web site to help.
Kreuser, who ran his 12th marathon Sunday, and Hanse were Elk athletes (both golf and soccer) at the same time as Hales, who played baseball and football. All live in Elk River.
The link is giveforward.com/fundraiser/mtv2/hales-family-benefit. Donations can also be made at Bank of Elk River.
Hales is the son of Dick Hales, the former coach for whom the baseball park is named. His wife Sarah (Page) Hales coached Elk gymnastics for a time. They have three children.
Kreuser said Hales is expected to need a year or two to recover.
“Ben and Sarah have been searching for a diagnosis for five-plus years,” said Kreuser. “Previous medical expenses and the recent surgery have created a financial burden.”
Chiari malformation is a disorder that leads to blockage of the normal flow of cerebral spinal fluid, causing a buildup in the spinal cord or in the brain.