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Erickson walks half-marathon for great-grandson's cure

Six months ago one of Dick Erickson’s great-grandsons was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

The quest for a cure led Michael Burnstein’s mother to organize a fundraising team at P.F. Chang’s Rock ’n Roll Half-Marathon in Phoenix.

On January 18 Erickson participated in that half-marathon. “I only walked, though. I didn’t run,” he said.

Erickson finished the 13.1-mile course with a time of 4 hours, 10 minutes, and 37 seconds. “I just had a great time and kept focus on the reason we did it,” he said. “That kept us going.”

Erickson walked with one of his daughters, Karla Hansen, who lives in Brea.

Michael’s mother, Tamara, who lives in the Phoenix suburb of Surprise, finished approximately half an hour ahead Erickson and Hansen.

The three generations of runners raised more than $8,000 for Run for Our Sons, which raises money for research to cure Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

(Additional information about the disease and Run for Our Sons as well as the family’s effort can be found at

The half-marathon was the first for all three members of the three-generation family team.

Erickson, who moved to Fallbrook in 1980, was raised in Bloomington, IL, and spent some time on the high school track team before dropping out of school to join the Navy in 1944. He ran sprints in high school.

Much of his training has been on the treadmill at Fallbrook Hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation center.

“[Otherwise], I wouldn’t have been able to do that half-marathon,” he said of the program. (Erickson underwent an angioplasty for blocked arteries 19 years ago.)

Erickson has three daughters and a son. His oldest daughter, Debbi, made a donation to Run for Our Sons as her father’s Christmas present.

Erickson then decided to join his daughter and granddaughter in the half-marathon. “It was an obligation. I had to do it,” Erickson said. “I did it for [Michael].”

Approximately 34,800 competitors ran or walked the half-marathon. Five of those were over 80 years old, although Erickson finished last in the 80-plus division.

“Not bad for 82. I feel like I’m 50, though,” he said.

In addition to his four children, Erickson has six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

“I’m so happy I did,” Erickson said of walking the half-marathon. “We’re looking forward to doing it next year.”

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