Sunday, March 25, 2001

'Rickshaw run' aims to help sick kids

Hamilton man plans to trot from Canada

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — A Hamilton police lieutenant, whose “rickshaw run” has so far generated more than $8,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, hopes to begin at around midnight tonight on his 300-mile trek from Canada to Cincinnati.

        Dozens of supporters plan to join Lt. Michael Martinsen's run at various points along the way, as he pulls a 100-pound rickshaw behind him.

        Lt. Martinsen expects to finish the final leg of his journey by picking up a Make-A-Wish child at Fountain Square at around 11:30 a.m. April 2, and pull the child in his rickshaw into Cinergy Field for Reds Opening Day festivities.

        In preparation for the run, Lt. Martinsen has been soliciting donations and sponsors and has been running 108 miles a week.

    Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
    Cincinnati Bell Wireless.
    Local PowerBar distributor.
    Rally's Hamburgers.
    New Balance's Hyde Park-area location.
    Dr. Chris Coffman, West Chester chiropractor.
    The Creative Presents store, West Chester.
    Yelton's Fine Jewelry, West Chester.
    Pedro's Mexican Restaurant, Fairfield and Oxford.
    Certified Angus Beef.
        “The past couple months have been very hard on me and my family,” the West Chester Township man said. “But all of our efforts were put into perspective when Make-A-Wish provided me with a picture of a 4-year-old boy who will get a wish because of this. I'm going to keep it with me on the run, because I know there's going to be some tough times, and I wanted to have something to motivate me and put things in perspective.”

        Lt. Martinsen — a father of three, including one special-needs child — had hoped to raise as much as $50,000 with his unusual stunt. Nevertheless, at $8,000, he already has set a record for fund-raising by a single individual for Make-A-Wish's Cincinnati office, said Tracy Beckman, spokeswoman for the organization that grants wishes to children with potentially fatal conditions.

        In fact, Lt. Martinsen has raised more money than some clubs do, Ms. Beckman said, and his contributions will enable two or three children and their families to go to Walt Disney World.

        “He's done a tremendous job. I hope that he's not disappointed on his end. I'm just ecstatic that he's raised as much as he did,” she said. “I'm speechless at how much he has done in the short time he has done it.”

        Lt. Martinsen says asking for donations was awkward for him, but a number of people boosted his efforts, including retired Hamilton police officer Jerry Merz, who “single-handedly raised about $2,000.” Fairfield Attorney Ron Craft and Butler County Common Pleas Judge H.J. Bressler also secured sizeable donations for the rickshaw run, he said.

        “It's been really tough, but he's had a lot of really good things happen,” said Lt. Martinsen's wife, Donna.

        Fellow officers in Hamilton, Cincinnati and in Lima, Ohio, have been particularly responsive, Mrs. Martinsen said.

        Donations are being accepted at Fifth Third Bank branches. Or call Make-A-Wish at 398-6660. Information: e-mail

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