To Grandma’s [Marathon] We Go!

After a few months of planning, learning, and training, I’m thrilled to launch this blog! First of all, thank you so much for reading. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to take a look through the tabs at the top to learn a little more about Nana’s story and this adventure, learn more about C. difficile, and learn how you can help. In short, I’m training to run Grandma’s Marathon (Duluth, MN) in June to support C. difficile research in celebration of my best friend, my Nana.

Through this blog, I’ll celebrate our efforts to support C. difficile and each other, share stories from Nana and others that inspire me, and bring you along on the challenging, rewarding, and often comical training path to the marathon. (Hint: I have never been a runner, so this has been a trip). If you’d like to stay connected, please add your email to the “Follow” box to the right, and you’ll be notified when there’s a new post.

For today, I really just want to kick off this adventure by saying thank you. There are many miles to go (pun very much intended) before this marathon, but without some very special people (including you, reading right now!), none of this would be possible.

Thanks to all of the doctors and nurses that cared for Nana throughout the years, and granted us so many incredible years together. She was our most special person, and it meant so much that others would treat her that way, too.

Thanks to Tony Barkey, a stellar colleague and friend, who so graciously crafted my marathon training plan and has been a very influential mentor and motivator. Without his support and encouragement, I don’t know that I ever would have started in the first place.

Thanks to Dr. Alexander Khoruts, an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Minnesota and faculty member of the Microbiota Therapeutics Program (MTP). Dr. Khoruts generously provided his time and guidance to help me understand C. diff and the work of the MTP.

Thanks to Russell Betts, Development Officer for the Department of Medicine/University of Minnesota Foundation who oversees the Microbiota Therapeutics Program (MTP) Fund. Russell has been so helpful determining what specific needs the funds we raise will be used to support. As a runner himself, Russell has also provided great advice for the marathon!

Thanks to Peter Westerhaus for sharing his courageous and inspiring story with me. Peter was playing Division I football at the University of Minnesota when he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. While fighting this disease, he developed the C. difficile infection, and it recurred several times, making a challenging fight that much tougher. He received the Fecal Microbiota Transplantation treatment from the University of Minnesota, and has not had a relapse of C. diff since. Peter recently founded his own nonprofit organization, Achieving Cures Together, and is sharing his incredible story to find a cure for C. diff and other microbiota-related infections.

Thanks to Andrew Castillo, a good friend and stellar fundraiser, for frequently brainstorming with me about how to make this work. Andrew is also a marathon runner and has been a great source of support, comic relief, and encouragement.

Thank you to the countless friends, neighbors, loved ones, and strangers who loved our Nana and were a part of her life. And, thank you for encouraging me to take on this marathon to celebrate her – thanks for never telling me that I couldn’t or shouldn’t run a marathon, and for helping me to believe it too. Whether this is the first time you’re hearing about this adventure or we’ve talking about it for a while, thank you! I appreciate you more than you know.

And last, but certainly not least, thanks to my family. From making the initial connection to the U of M, to advising that a marathon not at high altitude might be a little more fun, to volunteering to join in a race that weekend, to endlessly brainstorming and editing, to listening to me whine after falling on ice (more to come on that later), to all the comic relief and endless love. I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have a family like you.

And to Nana, from wherever you are, I know you’re watching and sending love all the time, but just know that I love you more!

And with that, it’s time to get going – to Grandma’s Marathon we go!

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