Two years ago today I scrounged together the best outfit I could with the limited running clothes I had, I opened an app called Get Running and went out for my first run.
Today I’ve run 2 marathons, 6 half marathons and a various other races and I have an entire separate dresser full of running clothes and accessories. I have a subscription to Runner’s World, I know what fartlek and tempo runs are, what an IT band is, who Jeff Galloway and Bart Yasso are, how to eat to fuel my body before during and after a long run or race and how to use a foam roller to get to just about any muscle on my body.
It’s safe to say I am a very different person than when stepped out the door on that (very) short, (very) difficult, altogether not-so-pleasant run 2 years ago.
I began blogging about 6 months after I started running (it was just a few weeks after I completed my first half marathon) to document my next step (a full marathon!) and beyond. My very first post was the story of why I began running and I thought I would share it again since many of you began reading long after it was first posted (pretty sure my parents are the only ones who were reading day one – hi Mom and Dad!) – enjoy!
My Running Story
My running story began 2 years ago with my friend Kerry and a goal of running a half marathon and fundraising in her memory for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
I met Kerry Kelemen almost exactly one year from the day that I ran my first race, the runDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon.
Kerry was selected during a game to participate in a fan video shoot for the New York Rangers that we were going to be doing. The day after the shoot she sent me an e-mail that said, “I wanted to thank you again for Saturday. I had a blast. It was my last day of freedom before being admitted to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to receive a stem cell transplant.”
On Kerry’s 24th birthday she found out that she had Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, her blood type was B+ and she decided that would be her motto throughout this fight – BE POSITIVE. Other than the day I met her at the video shoot Kerry was in the hospital for just about the entire time that I knew her. We began to e-mail bad and forth regularly – Kerry told me her story about finding out she had Leukemia and being in the hospital and we talked about hockey and the Rangers. Kerry was a big hockey fan and told me that the only time she felt “normal” in the hospital was when she could put her jersey on and watch the Rangers play.
Her family kept a Facebook page called Dropkick Cancer for Kerry Kelemen updating her 5,000+ followers on her status.
The entire hockey season went by and Kerry watched the games from her isolation room in the hospital with her boyfriend (eventually husband) Damian. A couple of days before our last game of the season Kerry e-mailed me saying they were out of treatment options and they were letting her out of the hospital – she hoped that the Rangers would make the playoffs so she would maybe be able to make it to one last game.
With the help of my friends and co-workers we got Kerry and Damian tickets to the last game of the season and made sure she had a memorable experience – they got a “backstage” tour of Madison Square Garden, watched a period of the game with Adam Graves (a Rangers legend!), and at the end of the night Kerry participated in the Blueshirts Off Our Back Ceremony and went out on the ice to receive Ryan Callahan’s jersey.
Kerry passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of July 10th, 2011 after a year and a half battle.
Shortly before Kerry passed away I had begun running with the intention of training for a half marathon and fundraising in her honor. I never got to tell her about my plan, but with her husband Damian and her family’s permission I was honored to run my first half marathon in her memory and raise over $2,500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
My running journey continues and with each race I still think of Kerry.
Thanks for following along and don’t forget to B+!
Danielle- what a touching story. I am sure Kerry was with you every step of that race. The Rangers community always comes together for blueshirt fans (and Adam is always a part of that, isn’t he?) and I’m sure her family and husband were very thankful for your part in that. It was a pleasure “seeing” you from across the Garden yesterday! Anything is possible. RIP Kerry.
Thanks Rosanne, I thought you might appreciate this story. Looking forward to hopefully meeting in person soon!
Yes, you are a very different person !
Love you kiddo…
Happy runniversary! What a moving and inspiring story about your start as a runner. When you run for someone else, it’s so motivating and empowering. I fundraised and ran for my cousin Laura, who died of cancer mid-way through my training cycle for her. I wrote her name on the shoes I’m wearing now and think of her every time I race. it reminds me how lucky i am to simply be alive, how lucky I am to be able to run. becoming a runner is such a life changing experience. here’s to many more years of running for you 🙂
Thanks Karla, it’s definitely an amazing experience to be challenging yourself to something you never imagined accomplishing in honor or memory of another person. I actually love the idea of writing your cousin’s name on your shoes, if you don’t mine, I may do that as well!
Congratulations! I’m so jealous of how quickly you have achieved so many running goals.
Thanks Katie, I never imagined I’d be at this point, when I started I thought it would be one race and I’d be done, but I loved the experience and here I am still going!
Wow that is such a heart felt story! I think its great you had that connection with Kerry before and after she passed by running and raising money in her honor. Thank you for sharing this story again, it was just wonderful!
Thanks, I realized recently that most of my readers probably didn’t know the story since I posted it so long ago and I felt like it was a good time to share it again : )
Beautiful post Danielle. Congrats on your runniversary. You are doing fabulous as a runner and your posts an blog are always fun to read.
Thank you so much Pam! The encouragement from you and others in the running/ blogging/ Disney community has really been amazing. I’m really looking forward to meeting in person in Disneyland or at Wine & Dine!
What a touching story! That shows alot about you and your character! I hope one day to meet you at a runDisney race! You are an inspiring lady!
Thank you so much Stacy! And yes, we’ll definitely have to coordinate meeting up at a race soon!
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Happy runniversary!! That is awesome, great story!
What a great story! I love the B+. Congrats on your runniversary!
Congrats on your runniversary!! What a beautiful, touching story.
Happy runniversary 🙂 And I love this story so much! You can clearly see how Kerry lit up a room just from the pictures!
Congratulations on your runniversary! My 2 runniversary came and went (I think it was in March lol) but if I had such an incredible reason to start running, I might have remembered it. It’s truly an amazingly touching story and I’m sure Kerry is giving you a high five at the end of each race 🙂
Haha, the only way I know the exact date is because I was using a Couch to 5k app and I went back and looked at one point!
Happy Runniversary Danielle! And what a wonderful touching story. I am sure Kerry has been with you on each of your running adventures. You are a saint my friend! – Simone 🙂
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