Running from Malaria: Three Iowa teens on a quest to make a difference, one mile at a time

May 29, 2013

Like every good idea, it started with a goal: let’s have a life changing adventure the summer between our Junior and Senior years. That’s how Running from Malaria began back in November 2012. Since then Waverly-Shell Rock honor students Brad Wylam, Scott Van Daalen and Ethan Wise have been contacting churches, newspapers and radio stations to make their dream become a reality.

3 teenagers ~ 350 miles ~ 21 days!

“I am someone who loves adventure and running across the state of Iowa with great friends and for a worthwhile cause makes it all the better,” explains Ethan Wise, a member of the WSR Cross Country team and state medalist in Track and Field.   

Wise, along with fellow Varsity Cross Country runner Brad Wylam, will take turns running the 350 miles across Iowa while Scott Van Daalen will provide support.  Their intention is to speak to as many churches and civic groups as they can on a route across northern Iowa beginning on June 11 in Hull and ending on the banks of the Mississippi River in Dubuque on July 2.

“We wanted to do something bigger than ourselves, that’s how we came up with the idea for Running for Malaria,”  Van Daalen explains: “When we started Running from Malaria, we had been thinking and praying for something we could do, and by the Grace of God, He gave us this.  Every day we hope to talk with radio stations, television stations, newspapers and whoever else we can talk to about our quest – to eradicate Malaria!  Every 60 seconds a child dies from this disease, a disease that is preventable and curable.” 

It’s not often that teenagers are willing to give up the bulk of their summer, but that’s exactly what the boys are doing.  When asked why, Wylam said: “Even though I am not an adult, I want to show that I can make a difference in the world.”

The teenagers and their parents are hosting a kick- off event on Tuesday, June 4, at 6:00 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church in Waverly.  The public is invited to come and hear their story and join them in a runner’s meal of spaghetti, salad, French bread and cupcakes.  A freewill donation will be taken. This will be the only fundraising event to support the boys in their run across Iowa.  All donations made while they are on the road will go to either the ELCA Malaria campaign or to the United Methodist Imagine No Malaria campaign.

Van Daalen writes on the team’s blog: “We are three juniors at Waverly-Shell Rock. We have a passion to make a difference and with the help of some important people in our lives, we feel like we truly can make  a change. We feel as though God has had a hand on us through all stages of Running from Malaria and are so blessed.”

Scott is the son of Dr. Larry and Shannon Van Daalen, Brad is the son of Dave and Cathy Wylam, and Ethan is the son of Rev. Deborah Wise and Steven Wise.

To learn more about the boys’ project, visit their website: You may also follow them on Facebook at Donations may be made on the website via Paypal, or you may send contributions to either Redeemer Lutheran Church or Trinity United Methodist Church in Waverly. 

Pictured, left to right: Brad Wylam, Scott Van Daalen, Ethan Wise