Thank you!

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As of last Saturday afternoon, our first ever Virtual Run for Nana and Achieving Cures Together is in the books!

It’s no secret that I absolutely cherish the Colfax Marathon weekend. And, though I completely understand and support the need to postpone the event, I was definitely disappointed when we learned that we wouldn’t be together under the ACT tent in City Park this May. But, I never could have imagined that a virtual event would fill me with so much energy, joy, and hope. Thank you so much for making a virtual community possible!

A huge thank you to our special guests, Peter Westerhaus, Christie Lansdowne, and Dr. Alexander Khoruts for joining us and sharing such important and pertinent information about ACT and the continued pursuit of cures for C. diff and other conditions at the University of Minnesota. I really believe that because of their dedicated work, there will be a day when people no longer suffer from C. diff in the way that Nana did. What an extraordinary day that will be!

If you were unable to join the event but would like to watch the recording, please visit this link (forgot to record until a couple minutes in, but almost all of it is here!): https://photos.app.goo.gl/1LtG6bYg1VEjLxxb6

IMG_9314And, because it was the Colfax Marathon weekend, after all, Ian and I completed our half marathon race on Sunday. Not the Colfax course (it’s much more hilly around our house, which was…interesting) and certainly strange to have to remind yourself to keep a 6 foot distance from other people on the trail, but it was still very special.

Also, we participated in the ACT Scavenger Hunt throughout our race! If you run/walk/handcycle any distance (even just an evening walk around the neighborhood!), take a selfie with any of the items listed at the bottom of this blog and post it to Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #ACTrunnersfornana – you’ll be entered to win a prize!IMG_9347

Finally, if you would like to “run” for Nana by donating to Achieving Cures Together, here is the donation link: https://www.achievingcures.com/colfaxmarathon.

I will keep you posted with the winners of our scavenger hunt, as well as updates on our fundraising progress and any new race updates. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for making this possible. Great big virtual hugs to all!

 

 

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Please join us for the Virtual Run for Nana!

Whole Team

Greetings, and happy Saturday!

I hope this post finds you safe, healthy, and well as can be in the midst of these challenging times.

I’m writing today to invite you to join us for the first ever Virtual Run for Nana and Achieving Cures Together (ACT) Appreciation Event to end C. difficile! While we hope to be together for a rescheduled Colfax Marathon Weekend in the fall, we are SO grateful for the opportunity to creatively gather for celebration, appreciation, community, and hope. [PLUS! There are special guests!]

When is the event and who can come?

The virtual zoom event is on Saturday, May 16th from 1:00 – 2:00 PM. You are ALL invited, along with any of your friends and family! Please feel free to invite others.

So what are we going to do at a virtual event?

Don’t worry – you don’t have to run! [Unless you want to, in which case we’ll share fun ways to complete your run and connect with ACT!] At the event, you’ll hear how ACT and the Microbiota Therapeutics Program (MTP) at the University of Minnesota are pioneering critical research in the fight to end C. difficile and other awful conditions. And of course, we’ll share about our special Nana and why we’ve spent the last 5 years running in celebration of her.

You said something about special guests??

YES! A silver lining of doing a virtual event is that we will have three special guests:

  • Peter WesterhausFounder of ACT
  • Christie LansdowneExecutive Director of ACT
  • Dr. Alexander KhorutsMedical Director of the Microbiota Therapeutics Program at the University of Minnesota

Peter Westerhaus founded ACT in 2017 after experiencing C. diff firsthand. Christie Lansdowne joined ACT in 2019 as the Executive Director and continues to drive ACT forward by supporting the treatment of patients with C. diff and continuing to push for cures. And Dr. Alexander Khoruts has been at the cutting edge of research on C. difficile to help end this terrible infection and others like it. Thanks to his research, over 590 individuals have been cured of recurrent C. difficile. We are thrilled that Dr. Khoruts can join us and share more about the current work that his team is focusing on, including responses to COVID-19.

Can’t wait – how do I sign up?!

If you are able to join us for this special event, please let me know and I’ll send you the zoom link for the event!

Thank you so much for being a part of this community. I can’t tell you how much your continual support, love, and joy means to me. I hope to “see” you on Saturday, May 16th!

Love,

Emily

Running for Nana COVID-19 Update

Whole Team

Greetings – wishing you all health and safety as we navigate this very strange and difficult time.

You may have already seen this in your email, but in light of the continuously changing circumstances regarding COVID-19, the Colfax Marathon has today officially cancelled the race weekend on May 16-17th. Though it is of course disappointing that we will not be able to convene together in May, we completely understand and are very grateful to the race organizers for taking the necessary but challenging steps to keep each of us safe.

As mentioned in the message, the organizers are working with the City of Denver in hopes of rescheduling the race to sometime in fall 2020. Understandably, because so many events have been impacted by this pandemic and circumstances continue to change on what seems like an hourly basis, decisions on rescheduling will not be made until the end of April or later. We will keep you updated as new information becomes available, and greatly appreciate your patience and flexibility as we move ahead.

In the midst of these challenging times, Achieving Cures Together’s purpose remains the same – to support the treatment of patients with C. diff and continue pushing the microbiome research frontier for cures. And so, we are approaching this change in plans as an opportunity for creativity, physically-distanced-togetherness, and hope. I will send another update soon as we decide how we will “Run for Nana” this year. If you can, keep May 16th penciled in on your calendar for a potential virtual event – thank goodness for technology!

Most importantly, I hope that you, your loved ones, and your communities are safe and healthy. Thank you so much for being part of our Running for Nana community, and for supporting Achieving Cures Together in the fight against C. diff. The Colfax Marathon is one of my favorite weekends every year, and you make it all possible. Running for Nana will look different this year, but we’ll do all we can to make it just as special. More to come soon, but please feel free to reach out in the meantime with any questions or concerns. Love you all!

Emily

Who are we running for?

Greetings and Happy Tuesday!

IMG_8756I’m not exactly sure where the time has gone, but somehow it’s already March. Not sure where you’re reading this from, but the weather this week in Colorado is perfect for running outside, which is lovely. [This picture was from yesterday’s run.] It’s been a jam packed (and fulfilling) winter quarter of grad school, but it’s soon coming to a close and I’m so excited to write you today.

We already have 32 PEOPLE on our 3rd Annual Running for Nana team!! I cannot wait to join with you May 16th-17th to Run for Nana in support of Achieving Cures Together and their tireless fight to end C. difficile. Our fundraising has also begun, and we’ve already raised over $650! THANK YOU to everyone who has already joined our team and/or donated – we truly couldn’t do this without you and are so grateful for you!

If you’d like to join our team, we would LOVE to have you, and there’s no time like the present to register because rates increase at 11:59 PM tomorrow (3/11/20). All the registration information can be found here. Also, if running isn’t your thing but you’d still like to participate, I invite you to visit our team Achieving Cures Together fundraising page here!

Who are you running for?

This is a question I’ve written in at the bottom of my race training calendar each month. I’m going for a personal record this year in the half marathon, and this question has been a way to refocus and re-energize on tough training days. If I remember that I’m running for my Nana, it’s a lot easier to put in the work.

Whole TeamIn that same vein, I’ve been reflecting on how much our team has grown since we first started in 2016. I am so grateful for and inspired by the growing support for this adventure and the fight to end C. diff. I realize that many folks who are now part of our RFN family never met Nana, which makes it all the more extraordinary that they’ve joined in the fight. Though we are Running for Nana to help end the infection that took her life, her life was so much more than the months that she fought C. diff. Therefore, I thought I would use today’s blog post to share her story.

Nana grew up during the Great Depression on a small farm in Minerva, OH, where she lived with her mom, brother, and grandfather – her hero and best friend. They lived without electricity until she was 6 and without indoor plumbing until after she graduated high school. Nana worked incredibly hard throughout her life, and prioritized her family above everything else. There is so much about her life pre-grandkids that I would love to share, but for sake of brevity, I will I skip to the part that I know best! (And if you’re at our house sometime, you’re welcome to read her autobiography!).

16d - 1993 Nana, Abbe and EmilyShortly before Abbe (my older sister and her other grandchild) was born, she packed up her life and bravely moved from Ohio to Colorado. Joan became “Nana” and our closest friend and companion. She took care of us while our parents were at work, and if you asked her, she’d tell you this was “the BEST job” she ever had. Through phone calls, sleepovers at her house, target runs, and a myriad of concerts, holidays, and events, we had the immense privilege to spend almost every day with her in some way.

HOQI1798She and our mom, Kim, were the best of friends, and she always wanted to be wherever “her girls” were. When Abbe and I went to college in Minnesota, she learned how to text, email, and work the computer (and an iPad!) to keep in touch, and made several trips to visit us in MN as well. She kept up with her friends and family through frequent phone calls, letters, weekly hair appointments, and lunch dates. She enjoyed watching musicals, mystery shows, and Lawrence Welk, and was an avid lover of sports cars.

In January 2015, Nana was diagnosed with lung cancer. She began chemo and (later) radiation at the age of 83 because she wasn’t about to let cancer get in her way. The treatment and side effects were very physically and mentally challenging, but yet she was rarely too tired to chat with loved ones or make time for a good movie (The Music Man was her personal favorite).

In May 2015, in the midst of her cancer treatment, she contracted C. diff. Over the next three months, Nana showed immense strength and courage as she rallied time and again to beat this awful infection. After an incredible fight, we lost our beautiful Nana on August 17, 2015.

She spent her life caring for the people she loved and in so doing, taught us how to love each other. It’s with immense gratitude that we miss her every day, knowing that we will always learn new lessons from her stories, laughter, and life.

I truly believe that because of the work that Achieving Cures Together is doing, there will be a day when people no longer suffer from the awful consequences of C. diff, and until that day, I’ll keep running. I would love to know what motivates you to keep running, too!

Thanks for reading (or re-reading!) a bit about our special Nana, and thanks again for being a part of this adventure. Will write again soon!

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We’re off to the races for the 3rd Annual Running for Nana Team!

Happy 2020! I hope this post finds you healthy and happy in the new year.

I am so excited to be writing to you today. I’ve been reflecting so much on this past year, as well as the past four years of Running for Nana. Because of you, a dream to run a marathon, celebrate my Nana, and fight back against C. difficile became a reality and has transformed into something I could never have imagined. Here are some of the highlights from last year alone.

Whole Team

Peter and Emily

In 2019, 38 people joined our Second Annual Achieving Cures Together team at the Colfax Marathon weekend to “Run for Nana” and fight back against C. difficile, plus many more who came to cheer everyone on. Folks joined us from Colorado, Texas, Illinois, and Minnesota, including the founder of ACT, Peter Westerhaus, who ran the 10-mile race! By some great coincidence, Peter and I finished our races right around the same time.

The team grew so much last year that we qualified for our very own Achieving Cures Together tent in the Charity Village. It was an indescribable feeling to look around and see so many people that I love so much crowded together in those blue ACT shirts, getting to know each other and spreading awareness of C. diff. She would be so grateful to each and every one of you and absolutely floored by the progress you’re supporting to help end C. difficile. Tent

Before I announce our 2020 adventure, I want to celebrate some highlights of that progress. Since 2016 we’ve partnered with Achieving Cures Together (ACT) and Dr. Alexander Khoruts from the University of Minnesota’s Microbiota Therapeutics Program (MTP) – two of the leaders in C. difficile research. Thanks to the incredible generosity of so many, we’ve now raised over $80,000 for the MTP and ACT since we started. Because of philanthropic support:

  • Over 590 patients with recurrent C. diff that could not be cured with standard antibiotics have been successfully treated at the University of MN through the fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) procedure – all at no cost to the patient. In 2020, the team hopes to share the treatment with clinicians across the US.
  • The MTP developed capsules of the FMT treatment, making it more accessible to fight recurrent C. diff.
  • As the team has expanded and manufacturing costs have come down, they have increased their ability to provide the capsules for critical clinical trials. The team manufactures the therapeutic microbiota in accordance with GMP protocols, which are required for all pharmaceuticals.
  • There are five active research trials utilizing the treatment including the MATCH Trial, which is a multi-center, placebo-controlled study at the VA. This is the largest study of its kind. The team continues to explore uses for the treatment beyond C. diff, and the other active trials are for patients with advanced liver disease, autism, ulcerative colitis, and intensive chemotherapy.
  • The MTP also has 3 additional research trials expected soon.

This progress would not have been possible without each of you and we cannot thank you enough for being part of these advancements!

So…that brings us to 2020!!

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I am thrilled to launch our Third Annual Achieving Cures Together team that will “Run for Nana” (or walk or handcycle) in the Colfax Marathon Weekend, May 16th-17th, 2020! Most importantly, I would like to invite YOU to join our team!

Now, before you get nervous, don’t worry. You don’t have to run a marathon. You don’t even have to run a half marathon. There are 5 races to choose from. An overview of each is below, and you can click the name of the race to learn more:

Race

Miles The Good Stuff

5K

3.1

Walk/run/handcycle, stroller, and dog friendly

Urban 10 Miler

10

Picks up on the last 10 miles of the marathon course

Marathon Relay

varies

A 5-person relay, with distances from 4 to 6.5 miles

Half Marathon

13.1

Runs through the Denver Zoo, a working fire station, and beautiful east Denver streets. Handcycle friendly.

Marathon 26.2

Runs through Mile High Stadium, around Sloan’s Lake, and through stunning west Denver

The 5K race is on Saturday, May 16th and all other races take place on Sunday, May 17th. In whatever way you feel most comfortable, we would love to have you as part of this very fun race weekend.

To register, simply click this link and choose the race that suits you best! Once in the registration page, just click “Yes” to “Raising funds or awareness for a charity,” and then select Achieving Cures Together (ACT) from the drop down menu that appears. It should look something like this:

colfax registration

Then you’ll be on the team, and you’ll get an email from me soon after you register with more details. Also, if you register before 11:59 pm on January 29th, you’ll get the early price! Thank you SO much for considering being a part of our Team.

Now, all that said, I completely understand if running isn’t your thing. If you still want to “Run for Nana” and help us fight C. diff, please visit How Can I Help? or our team fundraising page (link below). Our goal this year is to raise $20,000 in our Third Annual Colfax Race Weekend, and all dollars raised will go directly to Achieving Cures Together and their fight against C. diff and other awful conditions.  ACT Fundraising Page here: https://www.achievingcures.com/colfaxmarathon!

More to come soon but until then, please feel free to add your email to the “follow” box on the blog to be updated whenever there’s a new post. Here’s to you, Nan!

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It’s GO time!

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I’m finding it hard to believe that we’re finally here, so I figured I should do what I always do when I need to sort things out: make a list. Okay, so here are the things I know to be true.

  • This weekend (May 18th and 19th) is the Colfax Marathon Weekend in Denver. This includes a 5K on Saturday and a 10-mile, half marathon, full marathon, and full marathon relay on Sunday.
  • The Second Annual Running for Nana Team is 38 PEOPLE STRONG. We have team members joining us from Colorado, Minnesota, Texas, and Illinois.
  • Each of these extraordinary humans will be raising awareness for Achieving Cures Together (ACT) and their incredible life-saving efforts to end C. difficile and other awful conditions like it.
  • The immense generosity of so many has made it possible for us to raise almost $5,000 already of our $20,000 goal for ACT. These funds directly support treatment for those suffering from C. difficile, and will help make it possible to continue to provide treatment and research in the future.
  • This is all true and really happening, and is not a dream in my head (don’t worry, I just pinched myself to make sure).

I just want to thank you again for being a part of this adventure. I truly believe that because of the work of ACT and its partner agencies, there will be a day when people won’t have to suffer from C. difficile like my Nana did. And that is just plain incredible.

If you’d like to support ACT in this mission, please visit our Fundraising Page, linked here: https://www.achievingcures.com/colfaxmarathon

Also, here is a link to a wonderful information/resource sheet that was put together by Peter Westerhaus, founder of ACT, and Dr. Khoruts, with the University of Minnesota’s Microbiota Therapeutics Program. It details some of the current work, and also looks toward future goals: ACT Write-Up for Colfax Marathon

This will be the last post until after race weekend, and I know you are all busy people, so I’ll sign off for now with just one more thought.

DSC_9159When my sister and I were in high school marching band, our parents and Nana used to come to all of our parades and competitions. I could always find our family along the parade route, because as we got closer, I would hear “Gooooooo Emmie!! Heeeeeeyyyy Abbe!!,” and any other iteration that would get our attention (which of course, was never broken, as good marching band students…). When I think about running this half marathon, I just try to picture Nana on the sidelines and can hear her say, “Gooooooo Emmie!”. And, she would have learned the names and faces of each one of our team members, and she’d be yelling just as loudly for each and every one of them as well.

Here’s to you, Nan. We wouldn’t be here without you, and what a gift it will be to be together. I know you’re with us this weekend somehow, too.

I love you more!  Love, Emily

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A month to go!

Greetings to all on this beautiful April day!

It is with immense joy and gratitude that I write this post to share with you that there are now 37 incredible individuals registered to Run For Nana and Achieving Cures Together during the Colfax Marathon Weekend in May!! This includes 30 people who will take on the 5K on Saturday, May 18th, 1 person in the 10-mile race and 6 in the half marathon on Sunday, May 19th.

Two of these individuals decided that one race wasn’t quite enough…and will participate in both the 5K and the half marathon! We also have team members coming to town from as far away as Illinois, Texas and Minnesota, and of course many from right here in Colorado. Some individuals encouraged family members, friends, and significant others to join as well, so I’ll get to meet new faces on race weekend, too. Honestly, I could write a whole blog post about each member of our team and what makes them each so special and extraordinary, but suffice it to say we are so beyond lucky that we get to go on this adventure with each and every one. We are just so excited and grateful.

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I don’t know about you, but I can say that 2019 sure has been off to an incredible busy, but also incredibly rewarding start. Sometimes it’s easy for me to get caught up in and distracted by the day to day, so I’ve been trying to reflect more recently, especially on this journey as we get closer to race weekend. It’s been over three years since I first started to run for Nana and the fight against C. difficile. What I thought would be a one-time race to finish a marathon and raise awareness and funding for C. difficile research is now something I never could have imagined or dreamed it would be.

When I reflect on what Nana might think or say about all this if she were here today, I think she would be absolutely floored to know that so many people not only know about C. diff, but are also participating in a weekend to raise awareness and funds for Achieving Cures Together. She would be so very grateful to know that because of organizations like ACT and the University of Minnesota’s Microbiota Therapeutics Program, over 590 individuals have been cured of recurrent C. difficile and get to spend more time with the ones they love the most. For Nana, there would be no greater gift.

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Through this year’s Second Annual Running for Nana Team, we are also raising funds for Achieving Cures Together as well. So far, we have raised over $3,000 toward our $20,000 goal. If you would like to “Run for Nana” in a way that doesn’t involve as much running, I would invite you to visit the ACT Fundraising Link here: https://www.achievingcures.com/colfaxmarathon. You can either indicate the runner you’re supporting or select Achieving Cures Together Team – all dollars go directly to ACT to support their fight against C. difficile and other awful infections. Thank you so much for your consideration!

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that it’s been a bit of a tricky scheduling dance to find time to dedicate to training for the half marathon this spring. But, every time I get overwhelmed by schedules and the like, I think of each one of you and the incredible gift you’ve given by being a part of this adventure in all the ways that you have. Nothing feels insurmountable when surrounded by that kind of support, love, joy, and kindness, and I just honestly can’t thank you enough.

That’s all for now, but more to come as we get closer to race day!

Love, Emily

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