Imagine being 13 years old, in eighth grade, and every step you took brought intense pain. That was Nathan Bojan’s life.

A trip to an orthopedist and the Bojans had an answer: Nathan had a condition called Tarsal Coalition—the abnormal connection of two bones in the foot. Where people normally have tissue between bone, Nathan had none. Each step was agony.

Soon after the diagnosis, Nathan had his first surgery, but it did not resolve the problem. Over the course of the next few years, he underwent a total of six operations, each with varying recovery schedules, all of which involved getting around on a scooter, hours of physical therapy and plenty of time off his feet.

After a trip to Israel this past summer, he developed a blood blister on his right ankle that turned into cellulitis and a strep infection where a screw had been surgically implanted—an infection so serious that it could have killed him. Fortunately, he fully recovered, though he spent his birthday in August in the hospital.

Throughout Nathan’s ordeal, Friendship Circle of Wisconsin—a division of Lubavitch of Wisconsin—served as a staunch support system. Volunteers visited the hospital, bringing food and reading material, and helped with whatever needs the family required.

And now Nathan, 16, wants to give back.

In January, he and his mother will travel to Florida to participate in a half-marathon—that’s 13.1 miles!—to raise money for Milwaukee’s Friendship Circle. It’s particularly meaningful since walking has been one of the most difficult challenges Nathan has faced. He will walk, however, slowly, with his mom by his side.

“Raising money for Friendship Circle is extremely important to me,” he says. “I want to see our Milwaukee group grow. It needs to reach every person who could benefit from it. I want to be a part of that.”