Four women from the Hirshberg Foundation Marathon Team in Los Angeles made the trip to the Big Island of Hawaii this past June to participate in the Kona Marathon and Family Fun Run to raise money for the Hirshberg Pancreatic Cancer Center at UCLA.
The women joined an estimated 2,000 runners of all ages and abilities as they competed for prize money and raised funds for a number of charities. Team members committed to raise at least $3,300 for the Foundation and in return they received free airfare, four nights at a hotel, and entry into the Marathon. They were also invited to participate in a weekly training program held in Marina del Rey by Robert Mills, Director of Club 26.2, one of the area’s premiere marathon training coaches.
Lisa Hirshberg, who lost her father Ronnie in 1997, and her friend Mandy De Souza finished the ½ marathon in 2:57:43. Mandy raised the most money, collecting over $3,800. Allison Kaplan, an employee of the John Wayne Cancer Institute, lost her father to pancreatic cancer a few years ago. She ran the 10k in 1:57:54, a miraculous time in her eyes given that, prior to the training program, she never exercised. “When I crossed the finish line, Lisa and I just burst into tears thinking about our dads up there watching us and rooting us on. My dad kept me going for all 6 miles,” stated Allison.
Michelle Eskenazi, who ran the ½ marathon in 3:17:34, was also touched by the experience and is looking forward to the next event. “Being part of something that has unified nearly 2,000 people, all with different reasons and motivations for being involved, was truly amazing. On a personal level, I was able to accomplish something I never thought I would be able to do. I can’t wait to do it again next June in Anchorage, Alaska!”
Hirshberg Foundation Director Lisa Manheim noted that the women raised money in a variety of different ways. “Allison hosted a fundraising night at the Pizza Cookery, inviting friends, family, and co-workers, while Michelle held a garage sale and hosted a fundraising dinner at Fresh Choice restaurant. They all really went the distance.”
Citing the success of the event and the team’s efforts, Manheim went on to explain, “The Hirshberg Foundation encourages people to join our Marathon Training Program for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it helps raise money for pancreatic cancer research. But it’s also great exercise, an amazing experience and a fun vacation as well.”