Stroke Smart Magazine
CHAMPION OF HOPE
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New York City Marathoners: Footfalls for a Good Cause
National Stroke Association Team Raises Funds,
Awareness and Hope for Survivors
Most people would agree that 26.2 miles is a long way,
especially on foot.
In July 2009, the National Stroke Association assembled a
running team to participate in the New York City Marathon, a prestigious event
drawing more than 40,000 participants and more than 1 million spectators each
year. A group of 29 runners of varying backgrounds and experience levels from across
the country committed to the challenges of completing the 26.2-mile trek and
raising at least $2,500 each for National Stroke Association.
The team included stroke survivors, caregivers, people with
a family member or loved one who had survived or died because of stroke, health
care professionals who treat stroke survivors and many others. Each sacrificed
time, sleep, energy and blistered feet. These sacrifices were not much, said
runner Anne Allen Westbrooke, compared to what stroke survivors and caregivers
go through. The strength, determination and love they [stroke survivors and
caregivers] show while facing daily challenges, setbacks and personal
achievements is so much greater than what it takes to train for a marathon.
Varying in age from mid 20s to early 60s, team members
spanned a large spectrum of running experiences and stroke connections. From
marathon veterans to those who had never tied their laces for a race, each
signed on for one reason, they had been touched in some way by stroke. Team
members dedicated themselves to this race because they were inspired to make a
difference in the world of stroke. I’ve run for myself in the past, and now I
can run with more meaning, said teammate Gregory Mateja.
Raising funds and awareness for stroke were not the only
goals these runners had. Four teammates were stroke survivors, thankful for the
ability to run and wanting to assure other survivors that each day brings new
chances for recovery. Completing this marathon was not only a personal victory
for each runner, but also a symbol of recovery and hope. Every step I run, I
think about how lucky I am to be alive and to be able to not only live and
enjoy life but to be able to do something to help others who are not as
fortunate as I have been . . . I run because I can, said teammate and stroke
survivor Lenice Hogan.
On Nov. 1, the team braved the long distance from Staten
Island, through Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx, finishing in Central
Park. Together, they covered more than 700 miles and raised approximately
$100,000 for National Stroke Association.
While it’s true that 26 miles is a long distance, it’s not
quite as long when driven by a desire: to make a difference, to raise awareness
and funds, to honor a loved one and to give hope to others. National Stroke Association’s
New York Marathon team members are everyday people who took on a challenge to
make a difference in the world of stroke. For this, they truly are champions of
For more information on National Stroke Association’s New
York City Marathon team and to get involved or to participate, visit stroke.org/nymarathon.
Annalise de Zoete is a
member of the inaugural New York City Marathon Team and the Support Group
Leader at National Stroke Association.
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