LEWISTON — At age 50, when Mike Brooks weighed more than 235 pounds and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, a friend invited him on a two-day bike ride for a fundraiser.

Brooks managed to ride 6 miles his first day before becoming too exhausted to go on.

It was his desire to participate in fundraising that motivated him to start exercising and to eventually quit smoking. Over the past 20 years, he’s raised more than $40,000 for Camp Sunshine, a summer camp for children with life-threatening illnesses in Casco.

Brooks runs despite having arthritis in his knees and a couple of bad valves in his heart. He said he went to a doctor recently who was not happy that he had decided to keep running. The doctor told Brooks that if he lives long enough, he would have to have his heart valves replaced if he kept running.

“I felt like giving him the finger,” Brooks said. “If I drop dead while I am running, then so be it.”

These days, he takes over seven hours to finish a marathon and does a lot of walking. His dog joins him for parts of many of the runs.

Brooks has run five marathons in each of the 50 states and still averages 30-35 marathons every year. The seven marathons in seven states from April 17-23 will be in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and will finish up in Illinois.

Brooks has secured a $7,000 matching pledge from Finish Line for his seven marathons in seven days endeavor. To donate to his cause, go to crowdrise.com.

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