Wyoming’s weather has ranged from below freezing with snow to mild and sunny this month. Such variable conditions are typical for fall in the Rocky Mountains and no big deal for most of us.
That is, unless you’re Noah Fredenberg, an ultra-runner who recently completed a run across the state, passing 450 miles outside on foot.
Noah, running with support from his sister, Molly, finished the two-week trip earlier this week. Part of their itinerary included a stop in Laramie, where they spent the afternoon at Cathedral Home for Children, which will be the beneficiary of fundraising efforts from the run.
Molly worked at Cathedral Home in 2012 as a residential care professional, an experience she said was instrumental in inspiring her current project. The siblings recently started a non-profit organization called MeUsWe, which aims to bring awareness to at-risk youth and children in the foster care system.
They also hope to raise money on behalf of organizations that work with youth, and their Wyoming trip was a first step in that direction. Next year, they’re planning a run from Los Angeles to New York.
“Were doing this to encourage others that they’re capable of doing whatever they put their minds to,” Noah said.
He started the run Oct. 10 at the Utah border near Evanston and made it to Laramie by Oct. 22.
He continued east the next day and reached the Nebraska border by the middle of last week.
As a practice run for the cross-country trip in 2019, it was a learning experience, Molly said. For starters, the weather was unseasonably cold at the beginning of the run, dipping below freezing with wind and rain.
“It made everything more challenging,” Molly said.
The weather stabilized, but then Noah hurt his Achilles tendon and had to slow his pace. To complicate matters further, their route-finding was hampered by a lack of cell phone coverage, which made it hard for Molly to find her brother after she dropped him off for the day. Their route crossed the southern part of the state while avoiding Interstate 80.
“It’s been a lot of re-routing,” she said.
But the siblings are a good team, she said. They grew up in Great Falls, Montana, with four other brothers, lived out in the country and were homeschooled by their parents.
“Our parents encouraged us to do our own thing, so we’re all adventurers,” Molly said.
Molly started working with kids through an after-school program when she was 16, later moving on to work in residential group homes. She spent a year at Cathedral Home when she was 21.
“My time with them was really impactful because I was able to see them persevere through challenges and see their courage,” she said.
She lived most recently in Brooklyn, New York, where she worked as a freelance make-up artist, but felt pulled to return her focus to supporting at-risk youth.
“I wanted to develop a way to stay involved and bring awareness to their courage and their strength,” she said.
Meanwhile, Noah worked as a roughneck in the North Dakota oil fields before moving to Milan, Italy, to study Italian and prepare a portfolio for fashion design school. But before he started school, he hiked the 2,700-mile Pacific Crest Trail and got a taste for endurance sports. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, he continued his ultra-running career at races around the West.
“He likes to run. I’m not necessarily on the same page,” Molly joked.
What the siblings do have in common is a passion to push themselves to their fullest potential and inspire others to do the same, which led them to channel their efforts into MeUsWe.
Last Sunday at Cathedral Home, they talked to residents about their mission, screened a film called “Zion” about a wrestler born without legs who grew up in foster care, and then led residents in a mile-long run around campus. They also interviewed Cathedral Home residents to learn their stories.
“It feels very right to do this full-circle and come back,” Molly said.
They’re hoping to contribute a portion of the funds they raise during the Wyoming run to Cathedral Home for its Christmas celebrations.
Cassidy Biggs, marketing and development director at Cathedral Home, said several students really responded to the Fredenbergs’ message.
“They spoke to the impact that challenges can have on somebody — one of those challenges is being without a family or without that support — and just pushing through and working to make the most of your life,” she said.
She said Cathedral Home leaders never like losing staff members, but they hope everyone feels like they made a difference during their time with the organization.
“We’re glad that Molly was able to walk away feeling energized and feeling like she could do more,” Biggs said.
Molly and Noah named their 2,700-mile cross-country run next year From 1 to 21, a nod to the breadth of ages of children in the foster care system. They’re planning to complete the run in 121 days.
“We want to focus on every age group getting support that they need, but we really want to make sure that in those hard times — the 13-18 range — those kids are getting support,” Molly said.
Their route will take them through cities such as Las Vegas, Denver and Omaha, and they’re hoping to raise money and awareness for organizations along the way. People are also welcome to run with Noah.
Ultimately, Molly said, they want people to think about ways they can support at-risk youth in their own lives, whether by providing a job, teaching a skill or even offering friendship.
“Everyone has a chance to have an impact,” she said.
For more information or to make a donation, go to meuswe.org.