Tuesday, March 31, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Man ran across US, twice, to help battle rare disease

By
From page A1 | January 22, 2014 |

Noah Coughlan_1

Noah Coughlan runs through Utah on his voyage across the country to bring awareness to Batten Disease. (Courtesy photo)

VACAVILLE — When Noah Coughlan jogged into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean while carrying an American flag on Nov. 10, 2013, he became one of only 27 people to run across the United States twice.

But he says that wasn’t the most important part of what he accomplished.

It was helping bring awareness to Batten disease, a rare, degenerative children’s disease, by meeting with the families of those children and using his trek to get media to bring the issue to their communities, “and put a human face on this disease,” he said.

“I did this to be a voice for those children who could not walk, children who could not talk,” Coughlan said.

Two months later, Coughlan, 30, a Vacaville native, is working to put his experiences into two books as well as a film documentary being put together by Luminous Marketing & Media.

“My goal is to give Batten disease more visibility to the decision-makers, both political and medical,” Coughlan said.

The genesis of his runs came after Catie and Annie Allio, the daughters of the youth pastor Coughlin knew as a teenager, were diagnosed with Batten disease. It’s a rare degenerative brain disease that only affects four out of every 100,000 children in the United States annually.

Batten disease is an incurable disease that causes its victims to lose their sight, speech and motor skills, leading to seizures and dementia.

“It eventually leads to them being bedridden and unable to communicate, and it is always fatal,” Coughlin said.

After researching the disease, Coughlan concluded, “the one thing I saw was the need for a massive amount of awareness,” and that running across America was his way of contributing to raising that awareness “by putting a normal life on hold to become a missionary and a messenger.”

Coughlan’s first run in 2011 took him 2,500 miles from San Diego across the country, with a support team in tow, to end on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean four months and 12 days later in Jacksonville, Fla.

Working with the Batten Disease Support and Research Association, Coughlan was able to link up with families affected by the disease who lived near his route. He made more than 100 interviews with TV stations and newspapers. Nearly all also featuring those families and their struggles.

After finishing his run, Coughlan then became a spokesman about the disease, hosting talks and getting involved with fundraisers.

But Coughlan also had what he called “an itch” to do another run, this time across the northern half of the United States to meet with different families and get their stories out through the media.

On July 27, 2013, he set out from Half Moon Bay, aiming for Boston, which was 3,100 miles, three deserts, nine mountain ranges and 17 states away. This time, it was completely solo with only a three-wheel stroller loaded with necessities to keep him company.

He was also armed with a large American flag that he flew from the stroller throughout the entire run “to show my appreciation for the country I am in.”

The second run may have started out all about Batten disease, “but it turned into a story about the American people.”

While crossing the high deserts of Nevada on Interstate 80, an Army convoy driving west spotted Coughlan and “they put on all of their sirens and were waving.”

“It was inspiring, it was amazing,” Coughlan said of the cheering troops.

A Utah man who saw Coughlan on the news, tracked the runner down in the Utah salt flats after stopping at a pizzeria 40 miles away to get the pizza he delivered to Coughlan’s campsite.

A youth football coach spotted Coughlan running by and called him over to the team he was coaching for a playoff game, to give them a pep talk. Coughlan does not know if they won that game.

“There was no shortage of kindness of the American people, and I was witnessing that kindness every day,” Coughlan said of being handed countless bottles of water, food and donations by passers-by. “I learned that people are inherently good.”

When he got to Columbus, Ohio, the headquarters of the Batten Disease Support and Research Association, all the families in the region gathered to put on a dinner for him. “It was exciting,” he said.

He paused during the latter part of his run to pay his respects in Shanksville, Pa., at the United Airlines Flight 93 memorial; in Newton, Conn., the site of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, to talk to high school students there; and at the site of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Boston topped everything off, with an impressive police escort through the city that blocked off intersections while residents cheered for him from the sidewalks.

“I happened to end the run on the Marine Corps’ birthday and Marines from the local recruiting station showed up to salute as I ran into the water,” Coughlan said of the ending that had him take the flag from the stroller and carry it into the Atlantic surf.

This was all accomplished despite close vehicle encounters, hypothermia, weight loss, rain, thunder, frigid cold, heat, hail, tornado activity, dog encounters, bee stings, heat exhaustion, fatigue, high winds, flooding in Colorado, food poisoning and a still-painful hip injury.

Coughlan sums it up simply: He calls it “the most amazing experience of my life.” He has deep appreciation for the people and the Batten disease families “who kept me going.” He also hold close the support he received from Vacaville residents.

“You helped me share with the world why this battle with Batten disease matters,” he said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 5 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • P. J.January 22, 2014 - 8:55 am

    What an incredible man! What an incredible journey! I hope they do make a movie, and tell this story. I wold love to see the story of his life! Thank you!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Deborah GloriaJanuary 22, 2014 - 9:00 pm

    I can't wait for the documentary and book to be released !! I'm so proud of my son Noah, he's such an inspiration and has a huge heart!! Love you!! Mother

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Kene WinstonJanuary 22, 2014 - 8:36 pm

    talk about amazing&inspirational

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PeggyJanuary 23, 2014 - 7:07 am

    Determined, devoted, unselfish, amazing...the list can go on and on. I am so glad I was there in Boston for the finish to that incredible journey. I think I can speak for all parents of Batten children that we are so proud and extremely grateful for the awareness you created (and continue to create) and for telling the stories of our children. Thank you Noah and thank you to Noah's parents for raising such a wonderful man. Peggy DiCapua - Metro NY/NJ Chapter of Batten Disease Support & Research Association

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Bernie LillickJanuary 24, 2014 - 9:04 pm

    This is a wonderful article about Noah's fantastic marathon across America and I can attest to the fact that everything that Ian writes in this article is accurate and true. I was blessed with a chance to work with Noah as a back up helper every day of his journey with TV and magazine Media contacts and hotel and motel lodging reservations. This was a physical and emotional challenge for him beyond description. I can't wait to read his books and see his documentary Bernie Lillick Mt Vernon, Illinois

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Records detail shooting victim’s court history

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A1, 22 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Free Healthier Living workshops begin this week

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Frazier to deliver keynote at Solano EDC event

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B10

 
25th annual Rush Ranch Open House on April calendar

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A2

 
Helen Mirren film set for debut

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
 
Saturday Club schedules Shower of Flowers event

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

WIB to host regional career fair

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B10 | Gallery

 
Group plans Haiti missions fundraisers

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Travel presentation ready to roll in Vacaville

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
.

US / World

 
 
Ex-FBI agent sentenced to 10 years in Afghan kickback scheme

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
BNSF railroad adds new safety rules for crude oil trains

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
California leaders routinely use private email

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

 
Endangered bighorn sheep moved to Yosemite, Sequoia parks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, study says

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Church van crashes into canal, killing 8 and injuring 10

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Tennessee pastor, son who saved 3 boys among Carnegie Heroes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Pentagon chief considers easing of enlistment standards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
NSA: Car smashes into police vehicle at Fort Meade; 1 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Former Israeli Premier Olmert convicted in corruption case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Prosecutors: Co-pilot treated for suicidal tendencies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Guinea shuts border with Sierra Leone in effort to end Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Saudi-led forces strike Yemen rebels, blockade ports

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Iran nuclear talks near deadline; differences remain

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Prosecution rests its case against Boston Marathon bomber

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Opinion

Rebuild Gaza to avert next war

By Former President Jimmy Carter | From Page: A13

 
Reid’s US Senate legacy: Obstruction

By Jennifer Rubin | From Page: A13, 19 Comments

State moves up national school spending chart

By Dan Walters | From Page: A13

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: March 31, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
.

Entertainment

Animal Planet lives wild with its new programming slate

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Attorney: Robin Williams’ wife wants to keep wedding tuxedo

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Eliane Elias enjoys musical homecoming on new CD

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
5 things to know about new ‘Daily Show’ anchor Trevor Noah

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3, 2 Comments | Gallery

TVGrid March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Four No. 1 seeds in the women’s Final Four

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
UConn reaches 8th straight Final Four with win over Dayton

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Grizzlies beat Kings 97-83 to end three-game skid

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Cauley-Stein, Kaminsky, Okafor among Wooden Award finalists

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Hendricks’ shutout streak ends, Cubs top Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Lawrie hits 2 homers as A’s rout Rockies 11-2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Montoya has swagger back, but also shows softer side

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
A year later than expected, Michigan St back in Final Four

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Connecticut governor: move ’16 Final Four unless law changes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Raiders re-sign free agent defensive lineman C.J. Wilson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

2 Alabama players arrested in separate weekend cases

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Falcons fined, lose draft pick for pumping in fake noise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Racial quotas controversy re-emerges in South African sport

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
NFL suspends Browns GM for texting, team holds onto picks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Kaminsky, Okafor lead 2014-15 AP All-America team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Ex-NASCAR driver gets jail after 3-state high-speed chase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Nebraska, winner in 14 of last 15, at front of Big Ten surge

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
McGraw appreciates Notre Dame women’s run more than ever

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Gonzaga’s great season ends in Elite Eight but more ahead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
StubHub files lawsuit against Ticketmaster

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1, 1 Comment

Judge again rules Joe Paterno can’t sue for contract breach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Free agent linebacker Lance Briggs visiting with 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Fiancee says she discarded box at Aaron Hernandez’s request

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
.

Business

US consumer spending edges up 0.1 percent in February

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
UnitedHealth bulks up for prescription drug cost battle

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Business forecasters boost 2-year outlook for US economy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Amazon.com offering to help get jobs done around the house

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

McDonald’s to test all-day breakfast beginning in April

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
SEC files fraud charges against Lynn Tilton, firms

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

US university, foundation invested in frozen Chinese stocks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Regulators plan to drop case at closed California nuke plant

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Michigan entrepreneur claiming idea for Heinz Dip & Squeeze

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

For Better or Worse March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Garfield March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
Zits March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Get Fuzzy March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

Bridge March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
Sudoku March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

Baby Blues March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Frank and Ernest March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

B.C. March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Blondie March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Peanuts March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Baldo March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Beetle Bailey March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Dilbert March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
Sally Forth March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Pickles March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Rose is Rose March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Wizard of Id March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
.

Discover Solano Spring/Summer 2015

Ryde Hotel a speakeasy from the past

By Susan Winlow | From Page: DIS11

Walnut Grove shows a bit of historic Japan

By Susan Winlow | From Page: DIS12

Fresh, fruity, summer and fall Delta pitstops

By Susan Winlow | From Page: DIS16

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Benicia

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS21

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Benicia Fire Museum

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS22

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Dixon

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS23

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Jepson Prairie

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS24

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Fairfield

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS25

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS26

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Jelly Belly Candy Co.

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS26

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Fairfield Aquatics Complex

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS27

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Travis Air Museum

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS27

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Suisun Valley

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS29

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Manka’s Corner

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS31

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS32

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Glashoff’s Studio

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS32

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Rio Vista

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS33

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Brannan Island State Park

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS34

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Foster’s Bighorn Bar

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS35

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Sandy Beach

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS35

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Suisun City

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS37

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Suisun City waterfront

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS38

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Rush Ranch

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS39

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Suisun Wildlife Center

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS39

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Vacaville

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS40

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Nut Tree Plaza

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS43

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Vallejo

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS45

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Bay Area Ridge Trail

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS46

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS46

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Solano County

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS48

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Western Railway Museum

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS49

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Golf Courses

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS49

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Grizzly Island

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS50

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Calendar of Events

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS52

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Winters

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS54

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Napa County

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS55

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Sonoma County

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS57

Discover Solano Spring 2015: Yolo County

By Daily Republic | From Page: DIS58