Chris Carter and Andy Christie grew up competing against one another in high school cross country.
The Gwinnett grads never imagined more than 15 years later they would one day be running together for the same cause.
The duo will compete in the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 10 with heavy hearts as the two will run for national cancer charities in honor of family members and a former student.
"It makes it more meaningful for me," said Christie, a South Gwinnett grad and the boys cross country coach at Mill Creek. "I'm not doing it for myself with goals and time, just raising funds to help other people and it makes it more meaningful for me."
Christie, 33, is running for the American Cancer Association in honor of his father Bill, who died 11 years ago from esophagus cancer.
"Whenever I go on my long runs, it's a reminder of why I'm doing this," Christie said.
Carter, a Brookwood grad and the girls cross country coach at his alma mater, has two special people in mind while running for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. His aunt Pat Lowrie, an administrator at Mill Creek, is a breast cancer survivor and one of his former runners, Amanda Riley, died from cancer in April.
"It's going to a good cause," Carter said. "It's kind of cool to honor Amanda and my Aunt Pat with something like this."
Riley was a popular junior at Brookwood, competing on the cross country, track and field and basketball teams.
"She was a stud cross country and track runner just like she was on the basketball court," Carter said.
Riley was diagnosed with cancer in March 2009, and after 14 rounds of chemotherapy and 30 days of radiation, it appeared she had beaten cancer earlier this year. But in late March she returned to the hospital to find a mass on her brain and at the top of her spinal cord.
"It's motivating when you're on your runs. Sometimes it's tough getting out of bed early in the morning to run," Carter said. "She was always the kind of person that wouldn't just lay in bed. This would have been her senior year and that means a lot.
"She had the personality to always be out there and doing something."
Carter and Christie have set up online donation pages to help raise money for their respective charities before the October race. Carter has raised nearly a third of his $1,500 goal and Christie has reached 40 percent of his $1,000 goal. To make a donation for Carter and Susan G. Komen Foundation, visit www.active.com/donate/chicago10/ccarter243. To donate to Christie and the American Cancer Association, e-mail him at email@example.com.