The following is a Team LIVESTRONG story from Bank of America Chicago Marathon participant, Melissa Starr. You can join Melissa at the Chicago Marathon in October if you have your own entry.
Don’t have your own entry for Chicago? Don’t worry! Run the New York City Marathon with Team LIVESTRONG in November! We only have 20 spots left, so register today. There are many events you can take part in with Team LIVESTRONG. Go to www.teamlivestrong.org to learn more about our run, walk, ride and tri events.
Why did you join Team LIVESTRONG?
Honestly I waited to enter The Bank of America Chicago Marathon a little too long and it filled. I had set a goal of running a marathon so I began to explore options and saw the charity option. As I looked at and researched the charities I found LIVESTRONG . I remembered as a nurse on night shift reading an article on Lance and I hadn’t realized his cancer had metastasized and that he had fought such odds to beat it. I had lost my dad to brain cancer in 2003, it was sudden and unexpected and my mom in 2006 to lung cancer. My dad was my best friend, I took the loss really hard and was grieving ineffectively moving between grief and anger. As I read more about LIVESTRONG I wished that I had known about them while my parents were ill, so joining Team LIVESTRONG was an easy choice. Looking back I believe nothing happens by accident, there was purpose in me waiting and the race filling.
What would you tell someone else if you were recommending that they join?
I would tell others that I’ve grown so much as I learned to fundraise and train for races. I found incredible healing in paying it forward and helping others. I have also been honored to find people who are fighting cancer or newly diagnosed and share LIVESTRONG with them. I always have LIVESTRONG Guidebooks to share!! I have a handful of friends joining me for the Austin Marathon in 2013. The thing I shared with them was that training for an event with a date they can put on their calendar would help them with their goals. I also had two of them with me to see the race and they were so inspired it wasn’t hard to convince them to join! I also encourage people to consider the legacy and lessons they are leaving for their children, grandchildren and those around them.
Why did you join Team LIVESTRONG?
I joined because I’ve found such an incredible and positive community within Team LIVESTRONG and again such healing in paying it forward. My LIVESTRONG fundraising mentor, Barb Simmons, was also incredibly helpful and motivating! I was also impressed with the fiscal responsibility of LIVESTRONG, especially after touring LIVESTRONG HQ before Austin. It’s obvious that the primary focus is that the funds raised are for the purpose of helping those living with and affected by cancer. It was such an easy choice to register for Austin 2012 and Chicago again this year.
What does LIVESTRONG mean to you?
It’s about paying it forward and preparing my mind and body to participate in races for LIVESTRONG to help others. It’s so much easier to do anything with a greater purpose than yourself! It’s also about fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves right now. As I added names to the back of my shirt I had people tell me that I was their hero.I don’t feel like anyone’s hero, rather a voice for those who need a voice and a tool to point people to valuable resources. I also noticed that too many of names were those of far too many family in the “in memory” section of my shirt. I considered the legacy I was leaving my kids. Would it be one of disease, cancer and death or would it be one of health and paying it forward? I chose health and paying it forward. It also means leaving a better legacy for my children and grandchildren. I’ve thankfully had many of my cousins join me in getting healthy and in their support of LIVESTRONG, in turn leaving a better legacy for their children and grandchildren!
What does the training, the event itself, and being a member of the team add to your life?
It really helps me grow personally and again it has helped me work through grieving effectively after losing my parents, especially my father. For me, my life is about service to others and paying it forward. I also want to teach my children that nothing is impossible. I found that my training runs are a peaceful alone time for me to think, reflect and work things out. After my runs I have incredible mental clarity. Again, it’s been incredibly healing for me.