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Family goes distance to fundraise for sick kids

| Friday, July 1, 2016, 11:50 p.m.
Moira Hearn, 10 of Leetsdale, will run 335 miles to raise awareness and much needed money for the Free Care Fund at Children’s Hospital of UPMC.
Moira Hearn, 10 of Leetsdale, will run 335 miles to raise awareness and much needed money for the Free Care Fund at Children’s Hospital of UPMC.
Moira Hearn, 10 of Leetsdale, will run 335 miles to raise awareness and much needed money for the Free Care Fund at Children’s Hospital of UPMC.
Moira Hearn, 10 of Leetsdale, will run 335 miles to raise awareness and much needed money for the Free Care Fund at Children’s Hospital of UPMC.
Valerie Beichner runs in support of Moira's Mission on Friday, July 1, 2016 along the Great Allegheny Passage in West Newton.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Valerie Beichner runs in support of Moira's Mission on Friday, July 1, 2016 along the Great Allegheny Passage in West Newton.
Valerie Beichner runs in support of Moira's Mission on Friday, July 1, 2016 along the Great Allegheny Passage in West Newton.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Valerie Beichner runs in support of Moira's Mission on Friday, July 1, 2016 along the Great Allegheny Passage in West Newton.
Valerie Beichner runs in support of Moira's Mission on Friday, July 1, 2016 along the Great Allegheny Passage in West Newton.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Valerie Beichner runs in support of Moira's Mission on Friday, July 1, 2016 along the Great Allegheny Passage in West Newton.
Valerie Beichner runs in support of Moira's Mission on Friday, July 1, 2016 along the Great Allegheny Passage in West Newton.
Ken Reabe Jr. | For The Tribune-Review
Valerie Beichner runs in support of Moira's Mission on Friday, July 1, 2016 along the Great Allegheny Passage in West Newton.

When Moira Hearn of Leetsdale was 5, her mom saw how she “latched onto” a goal to raise money for Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Now, at 10, Moira and her family are on the home stretch of Moira's Mission, a 335-mile, relay-style run that started June 22 in Washington, D.C., and has raised $3,010 toward a goal of $12,500 to benefit the hospital.

“We weren't surprised at her doing this,” Valerie Beichner said about Moira's charitable bent. “She was named ‘Motherly Moira' in kindergarten because she likes to take care of other people.”

By the end of their mission, the family will have dashed through 26 villages, towns and cities via the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath.

On Friday evening they passed through Smithton, West Newton and Sutersville in Westmoreland County and plan to end the 11-day journey Saturday at Point State Park.

The family's three other children — Carter, Lawson and Lydia — are pitching in and running, with parents Valerie and Chris racking up most of the miles. While one parent runs, the other takes care of the children.

The money they raise is going to the Free Care Fund for parents who can't afford to pay hospital bills. T-shirts Moira designed are being sold to boost the amount.

Valerie Beichner said about 35 shirts had been sold midway through the run. The family members are wearing the T-shirts during the run and sharing their story with people they meet along the way.

They have two sponsors, Pro Bike + Run and Trust-Franklin Press Co.

They started training for the mission last fall when Valerie and Chris decided to raise more money than they could by only selling T-shirts.

“We want to show (our kids) that if you dig down deep and try your hardest, you can make a big change,” Valerie Beichner said.

The parents have been runners for about two years, logging miles through the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, a 5K, the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon and other half-marathons.

Chris Beichner said Moira's inclination to give back shows leadership skill.

“All the support makes me feel happy that everybody's supporting me in this,” Moira said.

The family plans a celebration party at the finish line Saturday at Point State Park.

Natalie Wickman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at nwickman@tribweb.com.

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