Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

On the Run from Tumors - All the Way to Miami; HE 'JUST KEEPS GOING' the Man's Wife Mentions His Endurance with Pain, Running to Fight against Genetic Disorder

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

On the Run from Tumors - All the Way to Miami; HE 'JUST KEEPS GOING' the Man's Wife Mentions His Endurance with Pain, Running to Fight against Genetic Disorder

Article excerpt

Byline: JEREMY COX

Tony Mixon hasn't slept well lately.

Someone might suggest that perhaps the pressure of preparing for a 360-mile, transpeninsular run is getting to him. The 45-year-old office manager is gearing up to run from Jacksonville Beach to Miami Beach between the day after Christmas and New Year's Day.

So he hits the gym every weeknight, logging dozens of miles per session on the stationary bike. Weekend mornings, he runs the equivalent of a half-marathon, sometimes more, along the mostly deserted roads around the St. Johns Town Center.

But his sleeplessness and inspiration, it turns out, share the same source: a genetic disorder that causes tumors to sprout along his nerves.

The throbbing pain in his hip - the product of a pair of tumors pinching his sciatic nerve - may keep him up at night, but it also serves as a reminder for his cause. Mixon hopes to raise $100,000 during his run for the Children's Tumor Foundation, a New York City-based organization that funds neurofibromatosis research and education.

"I can run a marathon or run around the block and not very many people will probably pay attention, but if I do something a little crazy, maybe people will pay attention," he said.

But can he really cover 50 miles or so day after day after day? Especially with more than 100 tumors riddling his spine and brain and causing his legs to turn numb after a few miles?

If anyone can do it, said Nickee Mixon, his wife and occasional running partner, it's Tony.

"He can go out without training and just do a half-marathon," she said. "He doesn't let anything stop him. If he's uncomfortable or in pain, you may not know it because he just keeps going."

More than 100,000 Americans have neurofibromatosis (NF) - more than cystic fibrosis, Huntington's disease, hereditary muscular dystrophy and Tay-Sachs disease combined. Many are diagnosed as children, but those like Mixon with a type called NF2 don't show signs of the disorder until early adulthood.

By then, he was already an accomplished distance runner, having made the cross-country team at Georgia Southern University.

It started with massive headaches and dizziness. …

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