Who am I?
Emily LeVan, marathon runner. In 1998, I decided to run a marathon because I thought it would be a good challenge and I ultimately hoped to qualify for Boston. In my first race, I ran 3:16, which qualified me for Boston and lit a marathoning fire that still fuels me today. Over the years, I knocked my times down quite a bit. At the 2003 Boston Marathon, I ran 2:41.38 which qualified me for the Olympic Trials the following year. My daughter, Maddie, was born in January of 2004, so I declined to go to the Trials that April. Since her birth, Maddie has logged thousands of miles with me in the BabyJogger and has become quite a fan of the racing scene. She has even run in a few of her own kid’s races. As for me, running has taken me places I never could have imagined when I first toed the line at the Sugarloaf Marathon in 1998. I’ve run 12 marathons, including Boston 5 times, New York twice and the World Championships in Helsinki, Finland in 2005. I am currently the 14th ranked qualifier for the 2008 Olympic Trials – Women’s Marathon with a time of 2:37.01.
For me running is a hobby and not a job. My biggest and most important job is raising Maddie. I also work as an Emergency Department nurse in a local hospital. My husband, Brad, Maddie and I live on a small farm on the coast of Maine.
On November 5, 2007, my daughter, Madeline (we call her Maddie) was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Suffice it to say, that my husband Brad and I were devastated and crushed by this diagnosis. In early November, Maddie, Brad and I spent 10 days at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland, ME where she had blood transfusions, x-rays, ultrasounds, spinal taps, bone marrow biopsies, and chemotherapy. Our world was completely turned upside down. We learned that we were embarking on a new kind of marathon; one that, if all goes well, will last the next 2-3 years of Maddie’s life.
Since we were sent home from the hospital, we’ve developed a new kind of routine; one that involves weekly trips to Maine Medical Center in Portland or the Maine Children’s Cancer Program Clinic in Scarborough. In terms of the leukemia, Maddie’s body has responded well to the treatments; her blood levels and bone marrow biopsies are all very encouraging. We are tested, however, by the day-to-day challenges of fighting this disease. While the chemotherapy drugs and other supportive medications are doing a good job of knocking out the cancer, the results do come at a cost. The side effects of the medications are numerous and challenge all of us daily. We keep charging ahead, though.
Why a fundraiser?
Throughout these last several weeks, we have been amazed and inspired by the support offered to sick children and their families at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital and especially at the Maine Children’s Cancer Program (MCCP). This illness touches every aspect of our lives and places significant financial, physical, mental, and emotional strain on us. MCCP has lessened the burden for us and helped make this journey seem manageable.
Brad, Maddie and I feel incredibly fortunate to have these resources available to us and we want to ensure that other families in the future can continue to benefit from the support and programs offered by the MCCP. That said, we are organizing a fundraiser for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program that will run concurrently with my training for the Olympic Trials in April. When Maddie was initially diagnosed, I thought the Trials would be thrown out the window; I had no idea how I could possibly manage her treatment, work, family and training. I’m still not quite sure how I’ll manage it, but Brad, Maddie and I decided as a family that I should do it.
I love running and I have benefited in ways I could never have imagined from the sport, but it is a very self-serving endeavor. I feel that right now I have the opportunity to use the running to benefit something beyond and greater than me. Both Brad and I feel strongly about giving back to our community and we see this fundraiser as a way that we can do so.
My goal is to raise $52,400 (Maddie and I are now running two marathons, so 26.2 times two is 52.4) for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program during the roughly 3 month period that the fundraiser will be running. Every dollar donated will go directly to the Maine Children’s Cancer Program. The fundraiser will run (no pun intended) from January 18th, which is Maddie’s 4th birthday, through the Olympic Trials on April 20th.
Why Donate To This Cause When There Are So Many Great Causes Out There?
Great question! Maybe you decide to give to this cause because you’re a runner and understand the challenge of training for a big race under even the best of circumstances. Maybe you decide to give because you have been touched in some way by cancer. Maybe you decide to give because you want kids to be able to be kids. You want their biggest worry to be if they will be able to stay at the beach all day playing in the sand and salty ocean water and not if they will be stuck again with a needle, if their hair will fall out, or if they will even feel like playing in the sand at the beach again. Whatever your reason for giving, know that every donation (however big or small) helps us toward our ultimate goal. You can be a part of the journey through this new marathon and you can help us reach the finish line.