Okeeheelee Middle School Teacher Inspires Students to Become Runners and Raise Funds for Colon Cancer

Brandon Mercado and Ramiro Melendez are two high school students who would likely say that long distance running has changed their lives. In a couple of months they’ll join veteran teacher Brian Thomas and other members of The Road Warriors running team on an incredible 1800 mile run from Greenacres, Florida to Lake Orion, Michigan in the hope that they will save some lives.

The Road Warriors are in the midst of efforts to raise $60,000 and they’ve committed to a run half-way across the U.S. to raise awareness of colon cancer and help fund research for a cure. 

Mr. Thomas, an Okeeheelee Middle School Science teacher and track coach, was already an accomplished long-distance runner when he founded The Road Warriors organization. 

“Four years ago, Brandon and Ramiro were inspired by my solo 1,200 mile run from Florida to Michigan that raised funds for cerebral palsy. As their track coach, I made a promise to both of them that they too could train and run a long distance race for a cause as long as they maintained their studies and trained hard and I’m proud to report that they have risen to the occasion,” Thomas added. Joined by partner Stephanie Schrieber, the two adults and two teens comprise the core of the Road Warriors. 

The Road Warriors Team - (Left to right: Stephanie Schreiber, Anderson Charles (Senior), Ricky Montes, Brandon Mercado, Ramiro Melendez, and (front) Mattie Maley

The Road Warriors Team - (Left to right: Stephanie Schreiber, Anderson Charles (Senior), Ricky Montes, Brandon Mercado, Ramiro Melendez, and (front) Mattie Maley

The Michigan native said raising money for colon cancer research is only one of the goals of The Road Warriors running program. “I also wanted to create a committed training program for underprivileged youth that promotes success in education and fitness goals,” he stated. 

Brandon Mercado is finishing this year at Spanish River High School where he participates on their cross country track team and Ramiro Melendez will graduate from Palm Beach Central High School where he recently broke another record on his cross country team. Both boys are planning to go to college. Brandon would like to become a physical therapist and Ramiro plans to work in a strength and conditioning career. 

The Road Warriors—who practice by running six days a week– will be participating in the 21st Annual FAU Wellness Triathlon on Sunday, April 15. Mattie Maley, team mate and nationally recognized triathlete, will be running in this event and the rest of the team will begin their simulation run along A1A (north) after the triathlon ends.  

They’ll get more “road-time” in with the Keys 100 on May 19 when Brian will compete in the solo run and the other Road Warriors will be competing for First place in the 100 mile relay. 

More recently, Okeeheelee Middle School student and track team member Tyler Monsour, has been making paracord bracelets and selling them to his friends at school to donate half of the proceeds to the Road Warriors’ effort. “I can’t run across the country–and even if I could– my mom wouldn’t let me– but I can make and sell these bracelets to support The Road Warriors every step of the way” he stated. The wristbands have been quite popular and Brian Thomas said Tyler’s initiative is precisely the kind of characteristic Road Warriors demonstrate. 

Beginning June 9th, the Road Warrior team will take turns running more than 80 miles per day through eight different states including Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and hitting the finish line in Lake Orion, Mich., with hopes to meet their fundraising goal of $60,000 with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to the Cancer Alliance to fund colon cancer research. To  learn more about the organization or to make a donation to the Road Warrior’s “Stride Against Colon Cancer,” running project, go to www.roadwarriorscorp.org,  and click on “donate.” 

The Road Warriors Student Made Bracelets

The Road Warriors Student Made Bracelets

About the Road Warriors

The Road Warriors is a non-profit corporation that is dedicated to helping advance and finance colon cancer research and informing citizens on the lifelong advantages of running and living a healthy lifestyle. The Road Warrior team has personally dedicated themselves to a 52-week, six days/120 miles per week training program where each member has individually logged hundreds of miles. 

Donations for the cause can be made by clicking on the “donate” icon at www.roadwarriorscorp.org

For more information contact Brian Thomas at (561) 434-3200 or via e-mail at brian.thomas@palmbeachschools.org.






 Public Affairs Contact: Natalia Arenas – (561) 357-7662 – natalia.arenas@palmbeachschools.org