CINCINNATI - Almost all his adulthood, Matt Wilbur has loved to run. Thirty years later, the Finneytown man still enjoys it, but the steps he takes each time are harder.
Ten years ago, Matt's marathon times were going in the wrong direction. At one point, he ran a 26.2 mile race in under three hours. But he couldn't understand, despite his training, that he wasn't getting faster. In fact, he was getting slower.
A doctor diagnosed Wilbur with early onset Parkinson's disease. It made sense to him. His gait had a bit of a hitch in it. He physically wasn't where he should have been.
But instead of surrendering defeat to Parkinson's, Wilbur did what he always does. He picked himself up and decided to have a good attitude, raise money for Parkinson's research and try to inspire others with Parkinson's.
And he kept running.
"I've been very fortunate that it hasn't got much worse over the last ten years," Wilbur said. "So I'v e been able to continue running and a lot of people can't do that, so I kinda run for them a lot of times."
He ran more marathons, but instead of three hour finishing times, they were stretching into seven hours of grueling running. But he kept running.
This year, he determined the 2012 New York City Marathon would be his last. He trained for it, was as ready as he could be and then Hurricane Sandy rearranged his plans. The Marathon canceled and Wilbur's dream of crossing the finish line one more time would end.
Or so he thought.
A couple of people in his running group decided the dream would not die. Instead, they plotted a course and created an entire marathon for Wilbur to run in Cincinnati .
"We wanted to try to recreate New York as best we could," said Kim Raber, one of the volunteers for Wilbur's marathon. "The New York City marathon finishes in Central Park. Well, we have Washington Park. They have the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, we have the Roebling Bridge."
This isn't just a long run, this is a full marathon with a starting gun, a finish line and water stations. And it's all because, despite adversity, Wilbur inspired his fellow runners.
"It's just amazing that someone's spirit would carry them despite the challenge their condition would present," said Tony Alonso who had the idea for the marathon. "He's a humble guy. A quiet guy. And the more I listened to his story, the more I was inspired."
"This race is really a tribute to Matt but Matt himself is really a tribute to the human spirit and to the power of attitude," Raber said.
Wilbur says he doesn't think he deserves this gift. But he knows that because of his attitude, and his willingness to share his life, he's been routinely blessed with "wonderful things" happening in his life.
He knows the race will be arduous, physically, but he's ready. Wilbur says his goal is just to finish, and finish strong.
"I'd really love to just enjoy the day and the people who are there with me and have it last forever because this is gonna be one of the greatest running experiences I've ever had," he said.
Wilbur runs to raise money for "Team Fox," the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which raises money for Parkinson's research.
To cheer on Wilbur on Saturday's marathon route, click here .
For more information on the race or to view maps of the course, click here .
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Bronson Arroyo pitched five-hit ball over 7 2-3 innings, Joey Votto was 4 for 4 with a homer, and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 10-0 Saturday.