St. Paul native running 12 marathons in 1 year for good cause

Thousands of runners from across the country will take part in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday.

One of them will be a St. Paul native, who's coming home for a good cause.

Matt Cavanaugh is no stranger to running a marathon, but his next one will mean the most.

"Coming home to run a marathon, I mean, that just amplifies it all, right? It just makes it feel a lot more special and important and that means scary," Cavanaugh, the CEO of National Kidney Donation Organization, told FOX 9.

After returning from two year-long deployments in Iraq with the army, Cavanaugh donated one of his kidneys to a stranger, which started a donation chain that helped seven other people.

Within a year, he ran four ultra-marathons in deserts around the world to shatter the misconception that donating a kidney puts physical limits on donors.

"We wanted to show people that you can donate a kidney and go on to do all the big physical stuff you do right now," said Cavanaugh.

Now Cavanaugh is halfway through running in 12 marathons across the U.S. this year to reinforce that message, while hopefully inspiring others to become a kidney donor like him.

"We don't need a miracle cure. The cure is walking around inside of all of us," said Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh's goal is to run all 12 marathons in under three hours, but his mission won't end at the finish line.

"I know that there are a lot of people out there that might be looking at me and saying, ‘You know what? If he can run it, maybe I can go register to become a kidney donor.’ I'll take that as motivation to get across that finish line before 11 a.m.," said Cavanaugh.

For more information about becoming a living kidney donor, click here.