Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Running for a cause

I sent out the below email to friends and family for fundraising.  This is my story which explains why I'm running the marathon (as well as the link to donate, should anyone feel generous.)  :)  I've italicized where I've made slight adjustments to keep personal info safe from google searches.

Dear family and friends, I’m so excited to tell you I’ve committed to running this year’s ING NYC Marathon on November 4th! Over the past five years I’ve stood in the crowd in the last stretch of the course in Central Park and cheered on my friends and other runners, dreaming that I might one day be one of those runners. I watched and cheered through happy tears, so inspired, knowing the months of preparation and dedication that came before that day.

There is one person in particular from whom I’ve learned the most about running; my friend Dina M. I was fortunate enough to meet Dina at my first interview at (the bank at which I worked,) my first job in the city. Dina immediately made me feel at ease, and as soon as my first day on the job I knew she would be my go to person anytime I needed help. I can remember like it was yesterday, standing outside the building on my first day, feeling completely in over my head. I was 23 years old, 3000 miles from home, and working my first real job out of college for a bunch of intimidating Wall Street traders (or so they seemed at the time…I couldn’t have been more wrong.) I recall telling my dad over the phone that the bright spot was my new friend Dina, who seemed to be so helpful. I had no idea what a dear friend and influential part of my life she would become.

For almost four years Dina and I worked closely together, usually sitting only about two feet apart (it’s close quarters on a trading floor.) You can imagine how well you get to know someone working in such tight conditions for years. Dina gave me advice on everything: finding an apartment in the city, family matters, dating, negotiating, shopping, etc. As a seasoned New Yorker, she taught me so much about life in the city. We discussed our favorite trashy tv shows, the Yankees, weekend plans, and of course, office gossip. Dina was my confidant, my support, and, as she put it, “the mother hen.” She truly took me under her wing.

Dina was an avid runner. She has completed the NYC Marathon eight times. I would hear her talking about her training and be in such awe. Hearing about all her running inspired me to want to run. I’m embarrassed to admit, for years I took a very lazy approach. I had no commitment, always willing to drop a plan to run if something else came up. I might run a mile or two here and there. If I ever ran more than two miles without having to stop it felt like such an accomplishment. I’d tell Dina about it, and instead of rolling her eyes she always acted so supportive, and most importantly, like she believed in me. She truly made me feel like I could be a runner.

Even though I only had the opportunity to run with Dina once, it’s a memory I cherish and will never forget. She and our other friend Val were doing a simple two mile loop in Central Park and let me tag along. I complained pretty much the whole time, and took frequent walking breaks. Instead of getting annoyed with me, they encouraged me, and didn’t allow me to think negatively.

In May 2010 Dina was diagnosed with brain cancer. She battled through extensive rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, all the while continuing her dedication to her job, spending time with friends, and when her doctor would allow it, running. I have never been more proud or felt more love for Dina than the moment I saw her run past me in the marathon that same year. What a blessing and privilege to jog with her for a couple minutes at the twenty third mile. She did not let the cancer define her or hold her back, and went on to run her last marathon in 2011.

In April of this year Dina’s fight with cancer ended when she left us and moved on to the next phase of life. It was only about two months before that I’d finally gotten serious about running and had signed up for a half marathon in June. The last time I saw Dina was about two weeks before she passed away. I was so proud to tell her I’d signed up for the race, and had started training. I promised her that day if I ever worked up the nerve to run the full marathon, I would raise money to research a cure for brain cancer. There is not a day at the office I don’t use one of the tools she’s taught me, not to mention all the life lessons I learned along the way. I will always be in debt to her.

When I crossed the finish line of my half marathon she was the only person I could think of, knowing she was beaming down at me. I have developed a love for running, and am so excited for the marathon. It’s a true honor to run in Dina’s memory. I have felt her spirit with me during my training runs in the park, and I know she’ll be with me on marathon day, pushing me along and telling me I can do it. She will be my biggest cheerleader.

I have a goal to raise $3500 by race day. Through your generosity I know I can succeed. Please consider making a contribution towards the fight against brain cancer by clicking on this link.

Sincerely,
Rachel

2 comments:

Em said...

Rachel, this is really beautiful. What an incredible inspiration. Wish you all the best with your race:)

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