TAKING 55,334 STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Greetings from our happy little home to yours! I hope 2013 is off to an amazing start and this letter finds you and your family happy and well. Our family is doing wonderful. Ethan is a 30lb walking, talking, and football throwing 1½ year old who continues to amaze us daily with his light, laughter and purity of heart. We are truly blessed and it is in evaluating our many blessings that I began to think of those less fortunate. The holidays always bring to light the many ways we can help others through food drives, donations and gifts of service but there just seems to be something more we can always do.
You may remember back in 2006 when I took on the daunting task of training for a full marathon while fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with Team in Training. I was looking to get involved in our community and inspired by the recent news of a dear friend who was just diagnosed with Leukemia. Leukemia is a malignancy of the blood-forming tissues – bone marrow, lymph nodes and spleen. It is established that leukemia and other blood cancers will strike over 100,000 Americans this year. Every week 1,155 Americans lose their lives to this disease that is the number one killing disease of children, yet affects 10 times as many adults. The LLS and TNT fund research that has improved the effectiveness of treatment methods and brings us closer to finding the cause and probable cures. Funds raised by the TNT for the LLS have pioneered 6 drugs that are also used in the treatment of breast and ovarian cancer.
In 2006 when I started training my “running resume” boasted only one Bloomsday; but with determination I set out to train day in and day out as my team and I raised awareness and much needed funds to further research and care for patient needs. Fundraising was incredibly fun and rewarding. Training for my first marathon – a little less fun but also rewarding. Running my first marathon – a NIGHTMARE!
For those of you who don’t know the story, here it is in a nutshell:
Seattle had the worst weather they had ever seen in the history of their November marathon. Horrible winds, freezing temperatures, hail storms and unthinkable amounts of rain attacked the pavement and every runner on the 26.2 mile course. My first 12 miles were strong, I felt motivated and confident. David had run the majority of my training runs with me and signed up for the race the day before – my hero! He made it 16 miles before an injury took him off the course and away from my side. I now felt like the only person out there in a sea of cold and gloom. Every step ached, my stride slowed and little did I know hypothermia was slowly setting in. David offered me encouragement over the phone as I trudged forward with a heavy heart. Waves of water crashed down from the overpass above as I neared the downtown area and finish line. Then in a moment of absolute weakness when I thought I really couldn’t go on – my team captain found me practically crawling down the course. It was pointless to stop and be stranded in that cold and she gave me the final shot of encouragement that I needed to press on a few more miles. When I turned that last corner before the final stretch to the finish line there they were, more LLS/TNT trainers, fellow teammates and supporters – cheering me on to the finish line. And at last, I made it, barely… but I MADE IT! The video of me crossing the finish line, frozen, exhausted and confused, is quite comical. It took one hour to get my core body temp back to normal in the first aid tent but I didn’t care. I completed my mission – I ran, hobbled and prayed my way through 26.2 miles in 6 hours, 4 minutes and 37 minutes!
A year later I trained with my father for the Phoenix Rock ‘n Roll marathon – PHOENIX being the operative word there – the weather was superb!!! I fundraised again and trained on my own via a virtual LLS team since there was no local team running that particular race. I ran stronger and more consistent yet was exhausted by mile 20. But there, with my father by my side I crossed the finish line in 5 hours, 51 minutes and 9 seconds!
You might be asking yourself – what was I thinking?? How could I have ever signed up for a second marathon after my experience with the first, let alone a third right??? The answer is simple. There is a need and the need is great. Yes, I push my body to its breaking point on 20 mile training runs, yes I am filled with a special kind of fear no matter where the course is or what the weather is like but I guarantee that the physical and mental toll on me is nothing compared to months of chemotherapy that can break down a patient’s body and spirit. For these patient’s the wear and tear on their body is not optional and anything I can do to see to it that someone has their medicine, necessary travel arrangements to treatment centers and to further research towards a CURE, then I will do it!
Some of you may not know that on November 13, 1995, with very little notice, David lost his father, John Paul David Yurik to a very aggressive form of Leukemia. I run for and in memory of my father in law, Ethan’s late Grandpa John, who we’ll never have the great privilege to me meet. He lost his life far too young to this horrible blood cancer leaving behind his lovely wife Peggy and three beautiful children Tami, David and Paul.
Today, February 24th, 2013 would have been John’s 64th Birthday, we love and miss him dearly!
I run in hopes of making sure that every child affected with this horrible disease (directly or indirectly) has the resources, care and treatments they need to fight the battle every day until that life altering moment when they cross their finish line and hear those two magnificent little words – “CANCER FREE!”
I run, for those who can’t run for themselves.
This year I also run in honor of my Aunt Elizabeth and dear friend Lynn who are breast cancer survivors and two of the strongest women I know; for my Uncle Tim who is battling prostate cancer; for our honored team-mates Layla Hefter and Jessica Lowery who are battling blood cancer and are an inspiration to us all; and I will also run for and/or in memory of your loved ones too. I will provide you with ribbon to write their name(s) and even decorate (if you like) and I will sew each ribbon to my race singlet and carry your loved ones with me all 26.2 miles.
“I used to run to get where I was going, but I never thought it would take me anywhere.” Forrest Gump
My goal is to raise $3,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as finish the race in 5 hours or less. I have made a commitment to run this marathon and bring us 26.2 miles closer to providing hope, peace and freedom to those battling blood cancer. Please join me in the fight – your generous contribution and prayers are so desperately needed and will make all the difference in the world to those in need. Your donation is tax deductible and 78% of every dollar raised goes directly to fund research and to patient care, even right here in our very own community.
You can donate here on my fundraising webpage http://pages.teamintraining.org/wa/rnrseatl13/cyurik Please also consider checking with your company to see if they will match your charitable contribution. Every step, every mile and every dollar counts!