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The fun run needed a hook. 

Rachael Eaton, a senior at Senior High, organized the race as part of her magnum opus project and struck on an idea.

"Ryan was kind of eccentric," she said. "I wanted to make it about him." 

And so the race, the United for the Night Glow Run, will be held Saturday after dark and participants will be decked out in glow-in-the-dark gear. 

Ryan is Ryan Eaton, Rachael's cousin. He died in February at the age of 27 of synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that attacks soft tissue.

The run is a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization United Luv, which Ryan started with his brother Dallas Eaton in 2011. 

After his diagnosis, Ryan spent most of his time in hospitals and cancer treatment centers, and discovered the monotony of hospital life. 

Rather than sit around, Ryan wanted to do something positive with his time, so he and his brother devised a plan. They would create a group that would give iPads to cancer patients, providing them with a distraction from painful treatments and hospital room boredom. 

The money raised by the Glow Run, which happens Saturday, will go for the iPads. 

"I just think the world of Rachael," said Karen Sanford Gall, executive director of Big Sky State Games and a distance runner. 

When Rachael struck on the idea of organizing the fun run, she called Gall for advice. 

"It's a lot of work," Rachael said. "I had to meet with the city, which was intimidating."

Rachael worked with city officials to get the race approved and to work out the route. Planning it as an evening race presented special challenges.

As a first-time race, Gall cautioned her to expect about 300 participants. 

"We're up to 550," Rachael said with a smile.

"This is just amazing," Gall said. "It speaks to the efforts she's made."

The fun run is the final project for Rachael to complete Senior High's platinum program, a sort of academic test of endurance. 

To complete the school's platinum program, a student must take every honors and AP class that Senior High offers, starting freshman year. Along with the classes, students are required complete a thesis paper between junior and senior year and cap it off with the magnum opus project during senior year. 

"It's damn hard," said Dennis Holmes, Senior High principal.

Holmes praised Rachael's work ethic and her dedication to her studies. She runs cross-country and plays tennis for the school, meaning free time is sparse, he said.

"I just can't praise her enough," he said.

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Business Reporter

Business Reporter for the Billings Gazette.