PW_1I didn’t want to run a marathon until I learned Gilda’s Club had a team.

When I was younger, I always figured I could run a marathon. Then I was hit by a car while crossing the street and it shattered my leg. I wasn’t so sure I could run—let alone run a marathon–anymore. But I still didn’t really want to anyway.

That was a year and half after my Mom learned she had breast cancer and 7 months after she died. I don’t know how I would have survived that time without Gilda’s Club. When cancer hits you, it overwhelms your life. Gilda’s Club and running, neither of which asked me for anything besides participation, got me through. The support Gilda’s provided was both priceless and free.

After a few years of recovery, I managed to score a ticket to Gilda’s Club’s annual gala. Coincidentally, it was the first year they fielded a marathon team. For the first time in my life, I wanted to run a marathon. I signed up that night.IMG_3899

Over the next year I trained hard bringing friends and strangers along with me through my blog Fundraising for Gilda’s Club was easy. We only needed to raise $3000 and I raised over $16,000. It was the race that was the challenge. I hoped to qualify for the Boston Marathon but fell just short. Missing that goal, though, helped me to remember the real purpose of my efforts: to honor my Mom and to thank Gilda’s Club.

Gilda’s Club gave me one more life enriching opportunity by asking me to speak at the next year’s gala–two weeks after that first marathon. Telling my story to a room of 400 gowned and black-tied people and being able to publicly thank Gilda’s Club for all they’ve done for me remains one of the proudest moments of my life.

I’m grateful for all that Gilda’s Club has provided me and I hope to continue to give back. Let my words be an inspiration.

If you’re interested in running the New York Marathon, there is no better team to run for than Gilda’s Club. Running for charity and specifically running for Gilda’s is the best way to get a number. If the fundraising is intimidating, I am happy to help. Doing NYRR’s 9+1 program costs nearly half the money you need to raise while running countless races around Central Park on weekend mornings.

If it’s the running that intimidates, the Gilda’s Club team will help you do more than survive. The unparalleled coaching, support and camaraderie are fringe benefits next to the good you are doing for yourself and people with cancer in their lives. In a world where so many of us are touched by cancer, you–like all Gilda’s Club members–will THRIVE.

Incidentally, 2 years after I first ran on Gilda’s Club’s marathon team, my Grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In August of that year, I asked if Gilda’s had any extra numbers and was able to join the team again ( I had the honor of running the 2014 NYC Marathon for my Grandfather and again for Gilda’s Club. It wasn’t my fastest marathon but it was the greatest marathon I’ve ever run. I can’t run this year so, please, run for me, run for you, run for Gilda’s and for all of us who are touched by cancer.

[list type=”stars”]
  • Peter Wohlsen – 2010 & 2014 Gilda’s Club NYC Marathon Team
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