Yep, we hear that all the time. Even after we explain why we train and why we run, people still don't get it. Well let me try to explain. I'm going to give you 'our story'. Just a brief snippet about what keeps us going every day.
In May 2006, I had one year of the ‘real world’ under my belt after graduating college. But as I type A person I was, I needed a goal. I no longer had a graduation date I was working towards for the first time in my life. I wanted to do something for me and do something impactful. I had done a ton of volunteer work through high school and college but I felt like I needed to set my bar a little higher. So I decided to run a marathon. Now let me tell you, I was not a runner. I had no idea how to train for a marathon. I had a friend in college who did a marathon with Team in Training. She always spoke highly of the organization so I went to an information session. During that info session, I learned all about Team In Training (TNT). It is the largest endurance training program in the country. They train people to run/walk marathons & half marathons, complete triathlons and century rides (100 mile bike rides). They had coaches and mentors to help you along the way. In return, you raised money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). Now, I didn’t have any personal connection to blood cancers nor did I even know anyone who did. Then, a sweet old man in a wheelchair spoke during that information session. While he spoke, I cried. He spoke about the treatments he received that were funded by TNT and LLS. He said that because of all the research done on blood cancers he was able to meet his grandchildren. He said he would never have been able to watch them grow if it wasn’t for the money raised through TNT. This man had his miracle. At that moment, I knew I was going to join the fight against blood cancer.
|Finish line of my first marathon|
So I started to train and raise money for LLS. I also started dating Ron. Then it happened. Two months before my race, Ron’s father was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML). Here I am, training and raising money for a cause that I had no connection to and then, all of a sudden, it becomes very personal. Luckily, CML can be treated with a medication called Gleevec. Since CML is a chronic form of leukemia, this medication acts as a daily dose of oral chemotherapy. It was our miracle drug. My father-in-law gets to lead a normal life. Prior to Gleevec, the survival rate for CML was less than 20%. Now that survival rate is over 90%. The research and development of Gleevec was funded by LLS with money generated from TNT. We knew that it was our mission to give back to an organization that has already given us so much.
|Celebrating another birthday for Ron's day|
Seven years and over 60 races later, Ron and I are still running. We are both currently run/walk mentors for the Pittsburgh TNT chapter where we help other people train and raise money for LLS. We have had the privilege to meet so many amazing and inspiring people. Those people and their stories have forever changed our perspective on life. Still, people ask all the time why we run. They think we are crazy. For us, it’s about the treatments and the cures. It’s about more birthdays and more hugs. It’s so that no one has to watch their loved one especially a child go through chemotherapy. It’s to beat cancer. And we are so close. Our family was blessed with our miracle. Other people need their miracles. We will help give them their miracles.
So on the days when it is hot or rainy or freezing cold, we train. We put our bodies through a lot. We wake up sore, tired and sometimes bruised and battered. Yes, we do it to be healthy and to hopefully live a long life. But you know what really keeps us going are those patients. You don't get a day off when you have cancer. You still have to get out of bed, go to your treatments and fight. It's a battle every day for them.
I will always put the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
-Warrior's ethos (from the US Army Values)
We are on a mission.