Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Runners’ Stories

Each year we ask our runners to share with us and each other what drew them to Jack’s Team and what motivates them to run the marathon this year. Here are a few of their stories.

Phil Keys       La Crosse, WI

I’m running the marathon for many reasons, one of the main one’s being my dad. My dad was always into athletics, including running. He’d go on the occasional long run and he’d also run a 5k every so often. I remember when I was 10 years old asking him if I could go on a run with him and he told me that I wouldn’t be able to keep up but I could ride my bike along side. A year later, when I was 11, he found out he had melanoma. Though he fought it on and off for two years, he finally lost the battle when I was 13. At the time, I wasn’t that big into running, I was more into basketball. A year later we had a cancer walk at our track and I went for my dad. For some reason I just started running and running, eventually garnering the attention of the high school cross country team who told me to try out. I eventually did and ran both cross country and track all four years of high school and ended up going to state three times and winning conference races in both sports over the years. If it wasn’t for my dad keeping me curious about the sport of running I would have never given it a shot.

Now my dad had always talked about running a marathon at some point of his life. When that couldn’t happen for him, I decided that at some point I would run it for him. So when I took notice of the Chicago Marathon I thought, “why not?” And so I’ve been training for the past couple months and will continue training up until the day when I can run the race he was never able to. I joined Jack’s Team so that I could not only run the race for my dad, but so I could also help the cause against melanoma. Life is too short to put our dreams and goals on the sideline, for if we do, we run the risk of never reaching them. This one’s for you dad.

Krista Mirhoseini   Seattle, WA

In late December 2009, a friend and co-worker of mine, Joan Stapleton, died after a brief, yet valiant, fight against melanoma. She was 52. I didn’t know much about melanoma before Joan became sick, but now know the frightening facts and statistics about the disease.

I worked with Joan in the legal field, but she was much more than an office mate. From the day I met her fresh out of law school and the next 16 years, Joan held me under her wing, showing me the ins and outs of law practice with patience, kindness and always tons of humor. Joan kept that wicked and wacky sense of humor through her illness, too.  Aside from being a paralegal, Joan was a talented writer and a big animal lover.  We often encouraged each other to write when law practice got us down (she said one of her hobbies was “pretending to write the next great American novel”) and shared funny pet stories — and grieved several pet losses — through the years.

Joan threw me my wedding shower, my first baby shower and provided constant encouragement to me through the years and the ups and downs of my life’s many changes — new lawyer, wife, mother, and then single mother.   Joan was also one of my earliest supporters of my marathon running. After my first, she gave me an inscribed book on marathon quotations that I still read for inspiration.  She often reminded me I could be (and was) a good mother and still train for marathons, something I sometimes doubted.

I feel so fortunate to have known Joan Stapleton. After her death it made sense that my next marathon would involve raising money for melanoma research and awareness in her memory.  The Chicago Marathon will be my 16th marathon but the one that has the most meaning to me and I know Joan will be with me every step of the way.


Christine Polz          Chicago, IL

I got my diagnosis of melanoma two days before I gave birth to our son.  It wasn’t exactly the vision of motherhood I had in mind.  My “maternity leave” was filled with visits to oncologists and surgeons, hospitalizations and treatments.  Life as I knew it had changed.  Not only was I a new mom, but also a cancer patient.  The diagnosis: stage three malignant melanoma.

It all began when I wanted a mole removed that I just never really liked.  I never worshiped the sun.  I can’t remember getting any terrible sunburns. I had no reason to think it could be melanoma.  I just wanted it removed.  When I got the call with the biopsy results, I was in shock.  Little did I know what was in store for me.  I made it through two surgeries and 52 complete weeks of treatment with the help and support from my incredible family and friends.  I couldn’t have done it alone!  I hope that nobody ever has to face cancer alone.

Here I am today, two and half years after the initial diagnosis and I feel great.  I’m able to spend every day with my son Connor, my husband Tim, and our dog Winston.  I’m able to still run and the running has really helped with the lymphedema in my leg.  I couldn’t ask for more.  I’ve been so blessed with such a wonderful family and friends.  Like I said before, I couldn’t have made it through without them.

Audra Jennings        Hoosett, NH

One of my aunts whom I am very close with was diagnosed with melanoma 2 years ago. Although she caught it early, it was very scary for her, her 3 young children, her husband, and her extended family, including myself. One of my closest friends was also diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 22, which just goes to show that cancer can really happen at any age. My mother is also a breast cancer survivor, and I lost 2 of my grandparents to cancer. It seems that cancer has touched all of us in one way or another these days, but I would be honored to run my first marathon for such a noble and personal cause as this.

Bailey Meyers                      Carmel , IN

I am a senior at Indiana University School of Medicine who plans to pursue a career in dermatology. Skin cancer research, detection, and awareness are very close to my heart, and the ability to participate on this team would be a great step toward achieving these goals.

Jodi Rahal     Chesterfield, MO

I had melanoma removed from forehead last year. After MRSA complications, all clear, but have large scar to remind me SUNSCREEN every time I look in the mirror!



POSTED BY Sharon Marston | Oct, 11, 2010 |