A few years ago, I never would thought running a marathon might be possible for me. The only way I could see running 26.2 miles was if there was some sort of zombie apocalypse where the undead could only travel 26.1 miles before disintegrating.
I was overweight, hated running, and the two bulging disks in my back kept the two running sneakers in my closet in perfect condition. Unused, and un-needed.
A lot has changed for me in that time... mostly good (less weight, more love of running, very few zombies and back-troubles figuratively behind me)... but I also suffered a loss, and it was one that many of my oldest friends shared.
Katie Grant was one of my favorite people from my college theater days, and we grew only closer in LA, post-Brandeis. She was someone who was a huge supporter for me, and also willing to tell me when I was on the wrong track. She would tackle me with love, or tackle me with outrage when I crossed the line. And then, just a few years ago, she was diagnosed with brain cancer not long after turning 40 years old. A loving wife, an irrepressible mother of two boys, and a theater teacher who spawned another generation of thespians and performers, Katie Grant Shalin was exactly the type of person who should be impervious to a disease like brain cancer. And yet, after a year of fighting, she was gone... and its a loss that I continue to feel every time I see a poster for a play we did together or hear a woman with a brassy voice and a Southern accent.
For a year, I've been trying to find a way to really honor her, and I think I've finally found something worthy of her.
I have committed to running the Marine Corps Marathon as a part of Race Towards A Cure. The money I raise will benefit cutting-edge brain cancer research through Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, and get us one step closer to a cure!
I want to be clear... I'm terrified. As some of you know, my first attempt at a long-distance race landed me in a hospital two summers ago, dehydrated and unconscious. The idea of running twice as long is scary. But I believe that with your support, and the motivation of the cause, I will finish this race with tears in my eyes and visions of Katie in my heart.
I know I'm not alone. Some of you knew Katie, and needless to say, loved her. Others have their own version of this same story. My cousin's husband just lost his best friend from college in unspeakable, parallel fashion. This is a disease that strikes with the capriciousness and speed of a lightning storm, regardless of age or race or social class. We cannot bring back those it has taken, but there are literally thousands of lives that could be saved with each new advance.
CLICK HERE to follow Shawn's personal blog and keep track of his ABC2 fundraising efforts.
CLICK HERE to register to run the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon as part of ABC2's Race Towards a Cure team.