NYC Marathon: 26.2 Dedicated Miles

On Sunday, I’ll run the 2017 NYC Marathon after 10 amazing months of fundraising for Fred’s Team, the athletic fundraising arm for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer center.  I’ve raised over $16,000 and have heard so many heartbreaking and inspiring stories along the way.

I knew that I would be dedicating miles as part of this race.  Below are the 26 (+1 for the 0.2) people I will be honoring with each mile of my race.  This is a long post, but please read through – these are wonderful, brave, amazing people who deserved to be honored and remembered.  Thank you all for your support this year, it’s been incredible and it will take me some time to really put into words all of the way this has changed me.

26.2 mile dedications for the NYC Marathon with @fredsteam Click To Tweet

Mile dedications for the 2017 NYC Marathon:

  1. Jerry – well known in the ATL running community and a dear friend of my massage therapist, Jerry passed earlier this year after a battle with cancer.  Jerry loved running so much, he had his ashes spread on the Boston Marathon course.  The first mile will be thinking of how much he would have appreciated the start of the NYC marathon and following his advice to not go out too fast
  2. Joan – the grandmother of my running friend Amanda, Joan passed away several years ago from Cancer.  You can read more about her here.  Amanda has been an amazing support system to me throughout this journey, and I’m so grateful for our friendship.

    Joan

  3. Matt and Matt – a former coworker gave me a very generous donation early in my fundraising.  Two of his high school friends are battling cancer.  Both named Matt, both with brain cancer.
  4. Mary – the grandmother of a current coworker who gave me a very generous donation.  His words about his grandmother moved me: “Mary died of cancer when my dad was still very young, and I unfortunately never even got the chance to meet her.  I grew up seeing how sad it made my father to not have either of his parents in his life (unfortunately they both passed away far too young before I was born). I know I’m 99% of who I am bc I have had healthy and loving parents in my life each and every day, and without their support can’t fathom where’d I’d even be right now.  Cancer took that same opportunity away from my dad, and look forward to a day when we can all “imagine a world without cancer”.
  5. Davis Family – A former coworker said that she wanted to dedicate her donation to her mother’s side of the family, who has “lost more people than any family should endure”.  Mile 5 is for them.
  6. Mike – the uncle of a friend from college.  Mike’s sister (my friend’s mother) wrote me a very sweet note that came in when I was completing my last 21 miler. It said simply: “Thank you so much for each step you take toward eliminating cancer and the heartache so many of us has had to endure watching those we love journey through it’s grip.”  I cried hard after reading that.
  7. Matt – the father of an Instagram friend. This friend shared with me that losing her father a few years back was heartbreaking, but running was her saving grace during that time.  She’s speedy, so I’ll be channeling her speed as I start to really get into my groove at mile 7.
  8. Sandy – “like a mother” to my friend who has been part of my running journey from the very start.  My friend and I used to meet up to do our 30 second run, 3 minute walk intervals.  Now I’m running NYC, and she is grieving the loss of Sandy, who passed last year after a short battle with cancer.
  9. Kim – the father in law of a grad school classmate.  Kim passed from brain cancer in 2007, and is missed every day by his family.
  10. Kuanta – the mother in law of a different grad school classmate, whose family cares about her deeply.
  11. Joel – the uncle of yet another grad school classmate, who passed away from esophageal cancer.  Joel never got to meet his beautiful new great-niece.
  12. Ted – One of my professors from grad school who is currently battling cancer.  He is also a runner and has supported my training and fundraising efforts.  He told me that while he is honored to part of my race, he hopes I will save some miles for myself too.  So I’ll think of him, but I’ll also really soak it up for myself in this mile.
  13. Nancy – the grandmother of a coworker, she died of thyroid cancer at the age of 88. Even in the hospital she made sure to be presentable wearing red lips, blue eye shadow, curled ginger hair!  This memory my coworker shared made me smile, because this coworker is just like this as well.  I’ll be working on my smiles for the cameras as I hit the halfway point!
  14. Rosa and Elizabeth – the grandmother and aunt of a different coworker, both of these women beat cancer.  This coworker grew up in Queens, and I’ll be crossing into queens during this mile and will be thinking of her and her strong family!
  15. Sandra and Sheila – friends of a different coworker, both of which passed away from cancer.  My coworker has such fond memories with these ladies, and I’ll be thinking about them and cherishing my own friends and memories we have made during this mile.
  16. Pat – the mother of a coworker.  Pat passed away from cancer several years ago, and it makes me sad to think she hasn’t been around for many of the life moments her daughter has had since.  I’ll be thinking about how grateful I am for my own family being healthy and supportive while I am in this mile.
  17. Samuel – the son of a client of my hairdresser, Samuel passed away three years ago at the age of 14 from Leukemia.  I recently found out that the majority of the funds I raised will be allocated to the pediatric research being conducted at MSK.  On Monday Morning after the race, I’ll get to tour the pediatric floor at MSK to see the money at work! It is my hope that contribution we’ve made will go a long way in preventing and curing childhood cancer.  While I have heard hundreds of stories this year as part of my fundraising, thinking of her losing her son shattered my heart in a million pieces.  Mile 17 is intentional – that is the mile that will pass by Memorial Sloan Kettering.  No child should lose part of their childhood to illness; and no family should have to endure that stress or pain.  Fred’s Team’s slogan is “Imagine A World Without Cancer”; I really, truly hope we see that day in our lifetime and that my fundraising will make a difference in getting us there.
  18. Becky – a close friend of one of my closest friends, Angie.  Becky is currently fighting breast cancer! I met Becky a few years ago in Savannah, where she ran her first half marathon.  This weekend, Angie will be running the Rock n Roll Savannah half in honor of her friend.

    Christina, Me, Carrie, Becky (who is fighting breast cancer), and Angie in April 2016

  19. Kirsten – another close friend of Angie’s who is currently battling cancer.  In April, Angie dedicated her half marathon to Kirsten and broke the 2 hour mark.  Kirsten is a runner herself and was out doing a long run that morning!
  20. Wilson – the grandfather of a running friend, Wilson passed away from lung cancer when my friend was 10.  My friend told me she often feels him with her on race day, so I will be channeling both her and his energy as I enter the most daunting leg of a marathon.
  21. Delia & Jill – a former employee and one of her friends.  Delia is a cancer survivor and watching her battle it was one of the inspirations for me beginning this fundraising journey.  Her dear friend is working through her own battle, so I’ll think of both of them.
  22. Lou – a close friend of my father who passed away a few years ago from Melanoma.  You can read more about him here.  I dedicated my half marathon to him in April and this mile will be for him and his family.

    Lou

  23. Connie and Donielle – Connie is the grandmother of my hairdresser, who beat cancer! Donielle was a mentor to my hairdresser, and Donielle passed from Melanoma at the age of 33.  My hairdresser has been amazingly supportive through this journey (we raised $2k together!!) and I am honored to dedicate this mile to these ladies who were so impactful on her and her husband.
  24. Tim – the husband of a former coworker who passed away last year from lung cancer.  They were high school sweethearts and married 32 years.
  25. Fran – the father in law of my running coach.  Fran is missed every day by his family, and the support of my coach has helped me survive this training cycle and will help me finish strong.
  26. Donte – the husband of a coworker and former employee who is currently battling cancer.  I began this journey after seeing what cancer has put him and his family through, and I’ll finish this journey thinking of the strength they have all displayed through this hellish ordeal.

0.2 – the last .2 miles will be dedicated to Fred Lebow, the founder of the NYC Marathon and the namesake for “Fred’s Team”.  Fred was treated for cancer in the early 90s at MSK and famously jogged the hallways to get his miles in and lift the spirits of other patients.  In 1992, he finally got to run the race he created and grew from just 100 runners doing laps in central park to the world’s largest marathon.  After he crossed the finish line, he kissed the ground of the city and race he loved so much.  He passed from cancer less than two years later.  Thank you Fred, for your impact on NYC, MSK, and the running world.  I’m so excited to run your race!!

Fred Lebow

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Jess

4 Comments

  1. Wow, this just left me in tears. I cannot believe how many people that you know that have someone in their family or they themselves have had cancer. It’s heartbreaking.

    I’m so proud of you for fundraising for a cure. You ran a great race!

  2. You have done the most amazing job fundraising. I think it is a true calling of yours. I cannot wait to read your race report.

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