Utah man inspired others, now seeks support following cancer diagnosis

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EAGLE MOUNTAIN — An Eagle Mountain man known for giving other people hope and inspiring others is in need of some encouragement. Chris Sullivan, known in his community as "the sign guy," has put a pause on his running following a cancer diagnosis.

Sullivan has been seen running in his community with a sign overhead that reads, "I believe in you," but he didn't get there all alone.

"I used to weigh 100 pounds more than I (do) now, and I couldn't even walk a half mile," Sullivan said. "And one day it had gotten so bad that I couldn't fit on the ride (at) Lagoon and just decided to dump the soda out, and just decided to make some major life changes and start to walk."

On top of other health concerns, Sullivan had COVID-19 four times.

"And the third time I felt like giving up, I saw Ben running," Sullivan said.

Ben Lyne, another Eagle Mountain resident inspiring others, ran past Sullivan with a sign overhead that read "I believe in you."

"It's something I noticed as I ran by, and people drove by, and on their face, the dread of the day," Lyne said. "So I started to get the idea like, 'Hey, I should motivate these people.' And then eventually got the idea for the sign."

Sullivan said that seeing Lyne with his sign made him think.

"If he can run with a sign, I can certainly run a little more," Sullivan said.

Sullivan then ran half marathons, a full marathon, and aims to run five or six races a year.

"I was training for Revel half marathon, and two weeks into it I stumbled. And in the course of that stumble, I hit a rock," Sullivan said.

He was holding his own sign of encouragement, running down Big Cottonwood Canyon, not looking at his feet. Sullivan sprained his groin from the fall, and it wasn't getting better.

"Through a series of small miracles and not healing properly, the orthopedic specialist decided to have an image done," Sullivan said. "And he found a tumor, and it was cancer."

Sullivan had to stop running, and he's felt it's taken a toll.

"It's been hard to not be a part of that uplifting, so to speak," Sullivan said.

So he decided to walk with his sign to continue to inspire a little bit of hope.

"If I can help somebody feel just a little bit better, maybe change the course of their thinking, and see that they're inherently good, then I'm going to do that," Sullivan said.

Lyne told KSL-TV he has seen firsthand how impactful the signs can be, inspiring others from people feeling seen to others wanting to join in. He formed a Facebook group called the 'Sign's Up Club', where members can share their running stories. It's inspiring others beyond just Eagle Mountain.

"There's probably about nine of us now in Eagle Mountain. But then more outside in Utah County, Provo, Orem, friends outside of the state, California, Texas is starting to catch on," Lyne said.

Sullivan said that when he wanted to give up five years ago, it was the worst day of his life.

"Ben has really inspired me in a lot of different ways to make even changes to uplift, inspire, and try and help other people out," Sullivan said.

Sullivan begins chemotherapy treatment June 6, and said he is working two jobs to make ends meet for his four children. The family has created a GoFundMe* page for support.

"It's been tough to kind of gather everything together, and we're just trying our best to make ends meet as a family," Sullivan said. "And trying our hardest to make it on our own. And just really appreciate the support the community has to offer."

Lyne said the community is sending prayers and hopes for Sullivan's recovery.

"(I) think it's super powerful, and it just speaks to what you can do. You don't have to run," Lyne said. "Just get out there and show that you care about somebody."

*KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.


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