While we may not be running this year's Celebrate Life Half Marathon like normal (might participate in person, might just run a few laps around my house), we still want to support this important cause in memory of my aunt, Janet Marquez Flaum. When we first ran Celebrate life back in 2016, Aunt Janet was supposed to be there cheering us on. (Or as many of you know, she more likely would have been telling us we were crazy for voluntarily running 13.1 miles outside in March. And in Rock Hill, a town which is appropriately named.)
We said goodbye to our aunt in December, 2015, but we continued on with our training. And members of Team Celebrate Janet (Taylor, Carl, Rich, and me) have run the race in some capacity every year since. This was our little way of honoring a funny, smart, and beautiful woman who we lost way too soon.
I'd by lying if I said it was easy to run this race. Sure the course itself is literally horrible....hills, hills, and more hills and oh yeah, it's 13.1 miles. I usually do 3-4 miles at most during a normal run on any other day. What really makes it challenging though is running 13.1 miles basically all uphill (not usually barefoot, but yes, sometimes in snow) while going through a range of emotions. Crying because Aunt Janet isn't here with us, laughing at something totally clever she would have said, getting angry that she isn't here, getting frustrated and crying some more when you felt like you needed to walk, but not wanting to because Aunt Janet, and all of those fighting cancer, deal with worse. So much worse.
We run on and work through it though to raise money for people and their families in Orange and Sullivan County who are living with cancer and need financial assistance for meals, transportation to treatment, co-pays, and other every day expenses. And we run on to honor and celebrate an incredible woman who we miss. Every. Single. Day. Forever in my heart, Dit.
2020 was a bizarre year. No gatherings, no socializing, and for some, no jobs. For those fighting the fight, not everything stopped....the doctor's visits, the treatments, and the bills. All this while dealing with this new unknown virus while already trying to cope with the overwhelming fear that comes with the diagnosis of cancer. Celebrate Life Half Marathon honors, remembers, and celebrates those who have fought against cancer. What money is raised by the race is donated; there are no overhead or admin expenses; 100% of the proceeds go to assisting cancer patients in treatment and their families in Orange and Sullivan Counties. These people- our friends, neighbors, colleagues- are fighting for their lives. These grants help alleviate some of the financial stress so they can focus on kicking cancer's ass! Every single dollar helps someone fighting the fight!