If you are a regular follower, you probably already know that I recently signed up for the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon and that I have done so as a member of the Team Life Without Lupus. What you may not know is why I have done so. I feel that it is important to highlight the reasons that I am running this race and why I have committed to this charity.
The idea of running New York started in 2013 as I trained with my sister Sally’s best friend, Danielle, (also one of my dearest friends) for the Disney Marathon. She had some how convinced me to join her on this journey despite my lack of running experience. We trained, we injured, we still raced, and we finished, but all in the most ridiculous of fashion. Seriously. She literally hobbled across the finish line dead last and got a confetti finish and received her medal from Mickey Mouse himself! We decided that albeit fun, that was not the way we wanted to complete a marathon and so the unspoken commitment of another attempt was born. Fast forward half a year of physical therapy and a couple years later and I get a reminder text from Danielle to enter the lottery for the 2015 NYC marathon. Danielle had gotten in the previous year, but had to defer due to injury and was definitely racing this year. I agreed to enter the lottery and commit to training if I got in. I dreamed about this amazing marathon held in one of my all time favorite cities in the world and crossed my fingers and toes that I would get in, but my odds were against me and I did not get in.
Danielle and I discussed the idea of joining a charity team, but the reality is that it is a hefty fundraising commitment and you commit to raising $2-3K! I just didn’t feel that I had it in me to make this commitment. I lightly perused the charity teams out there and investigated some options, but it didn’t feel right. I felt that I was simply using the charity as a pawn in order to run a marathon. It just did not sit well with me.
That said, I could not shake the feeling that I was supposed to run this race. So a few days later I jumped back on the computer and took a second look. I could not even believe it when I saw the Team Life Without Lupus page. If there was one charity I was already committed to, it was the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation. My heart was racing as I sent an inquiry letter to the Lupus Foundation asking about their team. I had butterflies as I waited for the response from the director and was ecstatic to know that they hadn’t even opened up their application process. I sent my application as soon as the applications opened and waited anxiously to hear the response. A week or so passed and then I got a phone call from a NYC area code and answered tentatively. I was in!!! I couldn’t believe it. I knew all the hard work was still in front of me – both of training for the marathon and raising the money – but I felt like I had just passed a significant milestone! I honestly think that I was more excited at that moment to be part of this amazing team than the actuality of even running the NYC Marathon. Everything just felt right. This was my team. This was where I was supposed to be. It gave purpose to my run and made me 1,000xs more excited and dedicated to the process.
You see, when my sister Sally was 11 years old, she was diagnosed with Lupus. If you are unfamiliar with Lupus, it is a chronic, autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system can attack healthy organs or tissues, such as kidneys, lungs, heart, brain, skin, joints and blood. Sadly though, despite the fact that it affects approximately 1.5 million Americans, it is unfamiliar to most Americans. Since the disease is chronic and often does not cause too many noticeable symptoms, many people suffering from Lupus are doing so silently. Shockingly, Lupus is more common than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anemia combined and yet it is one of the nation’s least recognized diseases! It is time to change that!
Through the past 22 years of my sister’s diagnosis she has gone through significant ups and downs. At times she seems completely healthy and you would never know that she is suffering from Lupus, but at other points in her life, she has been in critical condition and we’ve braced ourselves for the possibility of the worst. You see, Lupus can strike at any moment and flare ups are often caused by stress, other illness, or even lack of sleep. She has been blessed with a great team of doctors and a strong attitude. She really has blown my mind at times with her ability to overcome the obstacles laid before her. As a result of her battle with Lupus, Sally and my entire family, have gotten involved in supporting S.L.E. Lupus by engaging in various walks and charitable contributions, raising awareness through social media, and Sally and my mom even went up to Washington D.C. in efforts to raise awareness. Right now though, Lupus Awareness has taken a backseat for Sally, as she and her wonderful husband Enrique focus on supporting a different battle – beating lung cancer for Enrique’s mom. When I signed up for Team Life Without Lupus, his mom had not yet been diagnosed, but it feels even more serendipitous as I can now carry the torch for the Lupus Awareness for a bit, so that Sally can put her efforts on more pressing issues.
I hope that provides some better insight to why I am part of the Team Life Without Lupus and running the NYC Marathon. What began as a simple fun adventure has turned into something so much greater. I truly feel that I was meant to be a part of this team to raise awareness and help support the foundation.
Here are a few more informative facts about the team and my efforts:
1. Team Life Without Lupus is the only lupus organization to host a team in the NYC Marathon
2. Each member pledges to raise $3,000 for the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation
3. All donations go to the Foundation. Registration, transportation and lodging are paid independently by me 🙂
4. The Foundation promotes early diagnosis & treatment and funds innovative lupus research.
5. All donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE!
So here comes the part when I ask for your support….
Donating to this wonderful cause takes only a matter of minutes and can truly change lives forever. For the cost of going out to lunch or buying a coffee at Starbucks you can help support this under-resourced foundation to help make new breakthroughs and spread greater awareness. Simply click on the following link: https://www.crowdrise.com/slelupusnyc2015/fundraiser/jessicaregan1 and hit the giant red “donate” button on the left side of the page.
If you are unable to donate at this time, trust me, I get it! BUT you can still help. If you are willing, please post this page onto any social media sites you may have. Whether it be by donating your time, your money, or your audience, every little bit counts! Together, we can make a difference.
My sincere thanks for reading this post and for any help you have and will give.