Sandra Martz is an avid runner, but in 2014 she has used her leg power for much more than simply to keep healthy. She is, in fact, logging miles, many of them, to raise money to benefit a young Rockport girl whose parents struggle to easily and safely transport her in and out of their home.

Martz, 33, of Appleton is raising money to help the parents of Lila Jackson, 3, to build a wheelchair ramp at their house in order to more easily get the youngster in and out of the house.

Lila was born with a genetic syndrome and spent the first days of her life in the neonatal intensive-care unit. Jackson's parents are Dana and Sierra Jackson and Lila has a brother, Jude, 1.

Martz has run about 300 miles thus far and raised about $300 for the wheelchair ramp.

"I have been following Lila's story and [her mother's] blog since before (Lila) was born as I was pregnant at the same time with my son," Martz said. "Sierra is an amazing photographer and has a great blog page that I have been following for years. That is when my heart started to love this little girl. Sierra's blog is called My Holland after a poem, Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley, that a nurse gave to her in the beginning of Lila's journey.

"They have been through many ups and downs with last year being especially challenging for them and I felt that I was called to help them but had no idea how I could until I came across the irun4 family. It was at that time I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to dedicate my running miles for 2014 for Lila to raise awareness for genetic disorders, support her family and, most importantly, raise money to help her get the equipment that she needs to grow and flourish.

"At this time the biggest need is to raise funding for a wheelchair ramp at their home. It took this family and their case workers eight months to get Lila's wheelchair approved and now it's time that they have a ramp to navigate in and out easily. The cost of this project is $10,000."

Jim Roberts, the commander of veterans for foreign wars out of Belfast, said his group has an aluminum wheelchair ramp it would be willing to donate to this cause. He said the ramp is worth about $12,000 to $15,000. Martz has communicated with Roberts about this possibility.

Allen Mitchell of McCormick Builders is spearheading the ramp project, Martz said. The Congregational Church in Camden is involved in helping the family and it is raising money for this cause as well, she said. There has been a $2,000 donation through the Rockport Fire Department in a grant or gifted donation, Martz said.

Debbi Hitchings at the Congregational Church said she has been working with Mitchell to coordinate the building of a ramp. Hitchings is the administer of an outreach program called the Shields Mission Project which provides financial assistance to individuals in need in Knox County.

Hitchings said, "We receive our referrals from case managers/social workers who are working with clients and can verify a specific need."

Bob Garcia, director of Behavioral Health Services at Broadreach Family Services, approached the church to help with the ramp, and "we have been coordinating with him to make it a reality. His agency is spearheading the effort," Hitching said.

Martz said the project has $2,000 from the McCormack Fund, $500 promised from the Lions, the Shields Mission Projefct will step in with a significant amount and the West Bay Rotary is interested in helping with manpower and perhaps funding.

"It is taking a community to get this thing done but now its moving much faster with everyone involved working together," Martz said.

Martz, whose own family includes husband, Hayden, and children Hayleigh, 10, Maya, 8, and Jacoby, 2, said she hopes to complete 500 miles for Lila this year and has participated in and will participate in 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathons for the cause.

"I am hoping to organize a community Irun4Lila run where participants will have the opportunity to give to this cause and receive a t-shirt and Irun4lila car decal," Martz said.

For more information, email Martz at