Kelli McDonald


Hailing from the flatlands of Joliet, Illinois, relay runner Kelli McDonald was thankful she didn’t practice on the 179-mile course she ran last week that traveled through Fitchburg.

Otherwise, some of the hills she experienced on the western side of the state might have been enough to scare her away from completing her MS Run the U.S. segment, she told the Star last Wednesday.

McDonald ran through Fitchburg on Thursday, July 4, as part of her relay segment from Dubuque, Iowa, to Milwaukee; one of 19 runners in the 2019 MS Run the U.S. relay run.

This year is McDonald’s sixth time running in the relay. She runs for her mother, who was diagnosed with MS when she was in eighth grade.

“A lot of people ask me why I am doing it again, and I explain to them that my mom still has MS,” she said.

The run benefitting Multiple Sclerosis, which starts in April in Santa Monica, California, is a 3,620 mile feat that ends in August in New York City. During that time, runners take a “segment” of the distance and attempt to run it in one week’s time.

McDonald’s segment had her running from Monday, July 1, to Sunday, July 7. During her time in Fitchburg, she ran up Seminole Highway, through the Lacy Road neighborhood to Fish Hatchery up toward the Beltline.

McDonald said she’s met quite a few people who have also been diagnosed with MS in the years she’s been doing the relay run, and they’re often surprised she puts in so many miles to help find a cure for a disease she doesn’t have.

“I almost feel like this has been my fight, this has been my family’s fight, for 30 years,” she said. “When my mom was diagnosed, my whole family was diagnosed.”