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Sandy Doesn't Stop Chatham Marathoners

Despite going without power for days, 12 staff members from the School District of the Chathams are ready to give their time to fight blood cancers.

After school lets out Friday, 12 teachers and administrators from the School District of the Chathams will gather their running gear and travel to Philadelphia to participate in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training Marathon.

Nine of those running gathered at Chatham Middle School Tuesday to compare notes and trade tips for the weekend, including:

  • the weather (rain is predicted)
  • what to wear (long sleeves and pants underneath the required jersey, and maybe an old sweater to wear to the starting point where discarded outerwear will be donated to the homeless)
  • what to eat (Superintendent Michael LaSusa recommended two Cliff bars and a banana)
  • and where the team should meet after the race (the steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art—at the bottom, not the top.)

These are details the group has not had a chance to work out yet, mostly because of the damage caused by Tropical Storm Sandy. Several went without power for five days or more.

LaSusa was the last to have his power restored—it didn't come back until Sunday. Between work and his family, training for the marathon went on "a full-on taper" after Sandy.

Another teacher participating in the run, Doree Kesselbrenner, broke her toe three weeks ago and had to shift her training to "swimming, biking [and] the elliptical" to give it time to heal.

"It's an inconvenience, but as we know, there were a lot of people that were a lot worse off than us," Julie Ullmeyer said.

Gail Walsh lives in Middlesex County. The last long run she was able to do for her training, she said, was along the Jersey Shore "all the way up to Avalon and the bridge there," she said. "It was a beautiful sunny day in October. Now you're up here, it's hard to believe the devastation that's at the shore and how vast and wide it was up here, 50 miles away."

The devastation took a toll on training for several of the teachers participating. "I don't think I've been as ready as I've been in the past for some of the others [past marathons], but that's also what I'm holding on to. I've done it, and I know I can do it, so I will do it," Megan Keown said.

Team members also said they get inspired when they think of what got them all started training for this run—the announcement earlier this year that a colleague's spouse had been diagnosed with lymphoma.

"You're going for a cause," Stephanie Coviello said. "It's great that you're getting healthy, you're running, you're extending your endurance, but when you get back to the root of it all, I think that made me want to go further. That was motivation."

Trebour brought together the core group of those interested in running the marathon back in June. Twelve of the fourteen who originally signed up will make the trip to Philadelphia.

"We have people that we work with [whose] immediate family currently undergo the challenge of these diseases," Trebour said in a previous interview with Chatham Patch.

Together they raised money from among their own family and friends, solicited donations and held fundraising events in Chatham that the community generously responded to. Donations totaled $24,732.89, well over the required $23,100 for the event.

"We would like our school and the community that we work in to know that we are so thankful for their generous contributions," Trebour said.

Trebour and LaSusa are the only two of the twelve runners who will run a full marathon Saturday—26.2 miles.

"I'll be the last one [of the group] to finish," Trebour said.

Kesselbrenner's son Joey, now 27, suffered a bout of leukemia when he was 6. He's been in remission for 20 years. She has participated in several Team In Traning events since his illness.

"I always remember my son at 6 years old, and I always know that this is time well spent and the whole effort is worth it, because he would not be alive but for all the research and the trials that went on before he was ill, and all the improvements that have been made in the last 20 years," Kesselbrenner said.

"Hopefully anyone we know who is currently suffering or being treated has benefited from all the people that have put in the time and effort and energy to continue to fundraise, to continue to research, and to continue to make treatment better and hopefully someday eradicate it. I'll do it as long as I can do it, because to me it's paying back the universe."

Cheryl Vivona November 14, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Good luck to these wonderful educators! Teaching our children yet another lesson about honoring commitment in the face of hardship! Just like the people they are trying to help! Thank you!

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