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Stepping up 

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Bret Johnson was coming home on a bus last summer, feeling good after spending a month as a volunteer at a summer camp. But as the 16-year-old neared his Fountain hometown and came back into cellular range, he got a tearful phone call from his mother.

After a short period of remission, his friend Michael Downing's bone cancer, called Ewing's sarcoma, had become uncontrollable.

"Time just stopped on that bus ride," Johnson says. "That moment changed my life."

He felt like he needed to help. Johnson sent an e-mail to givemeaning.com, a Web site devoted to helping out charitable causes. Soon, he was pulled out of class to take a phone call from Tom Williams, the Web site's CEO.

Their conversation was the catalyst for Johnson's work on the Miles 4 Michael project. The 2.5-mile benefit walk, which will proceed from Fountain Town Hall, past Downing's house to Fountain-Fort Carson High School, aims to help raise the necessary funds for his friend's treatment.

Williams has served as Johnson's mentor on the Miles 4 Michael project. Classmates and teachers have offered their assistance, as well.

"When Mike is doing well, everyone seems happy and ecstatic," Johnson says. "When he's not, they want to know how they can help."

After the walk, Johnson hopes to continue charitable work.

"I've struggled with all of these passions, but never had an outlet," he says. "I know it's clichd, but I'd like to think I'm making a ding in the universe."

Miles 4 Michael benefit walk

Fountain City Hall, 116 S. Main St., Fountain

Saturday, Nov. 11, 8:30 a.m.

Registration fees: $10-$25; e-mail milesformichael@gmail.com for information.

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