My boyfriend’s grandfather recently passed away due to pancreatic cancer. He was a very healthy, wonderfully dapper, kind-hearted, energetic and motivated 85-year-old. A role model for all—the kind of man who was born to be a grandfather. The disease took his life rather suddenly. I didn’t get a chance to know his as well as I would have liked to, but he reminded me of my mother’s father, whom I lost 10 years ago and adored. So watching him pass away was even more hurtful. His family members are some of the best people around—watching them suffer along with him through the two months of distress was all I need as motivated to run the Boston Marathon in his memory.
I sent out a letter to over a hundred people, explaining that I was running the Boston Marathon and that I was asking for them to be there on race day with me in spirit. I didn’t have to raise any money to actually run, so I just invited people to give to one of three charities (The Hirshberg Foundation of course being one of them!) if they wanted to. The response was amazing. I received checks from over 70% of those I wrote to.
The day before the marathon, my sister flew in from San Francisco so she could watch me. She’s a marathon runner too. We went out to dinner and about three glasses of wine into it (her, not me!), she decided that she was going to run it as well—she wanted to support me and keep me company! Unbelievable! She was training for a triathlon, but hadn’t run more than an hour in over a year. So she ran with me while my friends from Boston and New York watched, and my boyfriend and his parents were there as well. All to cheer me on. I felt great. And I finished in my best time yet!
Running a marathon is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. When is the last time you had thousands of people, friends, family and strangers rooting you on for three and a half straight hours? It doesn’t happen in this world, but it happens on race day. And to have that support, along with knowing that support wasn’t just for me personally, but for the causes I raised money for, was incredible.
Wylie went on to finish the Boston Marathon and raise over $1,300 for pancreatic cancer research. Her journey to the finish line inspired friends, family and everyone on the sidelines. She rallied the support she received and refused to give in to the challenge and made a commitment to never give up!