New York Marathon

This weekend I am running probably the biggest marathon so far of the 10 I have run since 2008, Boston 2011 being a close second.  It will be my 11th marathon, 5th this year.  I am running this marathon in honor of the person whose family first got me involved in fundraising for MS.  I thought this would be a good way to say thank you, to run this one, my biggest one yet, in his honor.  Chuck Scherwinski is the Dad of a good college friend of mine.  He is the second friend I have made with a parent who has MS.  Ashley, the founder of Ms Run the US, being my first connection back in high school.  Andy got me into my first fundraising event.  I had never before raised a significant amount of money for anything, before Andy asked me to be a part of his team and raise at least $1,000 for the MS Bike Tour in 2006 (I think?).

My friends Andy and Jason, who got me started!

My friends Andy and Jason, who got me started!

So I agreed and set out asking friends and family for donations, and started training as much as I could on the bike.  It would be my furthest ride by far, about 135 miles over 2 days (Waukesha to Whitewater, Whitewater to Madison…)  I had a good 5 months to raise the money, and as soon as the weather got nicer I could train.  The ride was the first weekend in August.   I raised the $1,000 and I put in a decent amount of training time.  I was ready and proud of myself.  I got to meet Chuck for the first time the Friday before the Tour started, because the Scherwinski’s always had the team over for a pasta dinner the night before we start the ride.  So I got to meet the team and they made me feel right at home.  I was so excited!

MS Bike Tour!!  2007 (??)

MS Bike Tour!! 2007 (??)

I made it through the miles, and it was pretty tough, especially the second day when my butt was sore from being on the bike for so many hours the day before, and there seemed to be more hills on day 2.  I had an amazing time, and I returned to be a part of the team for a handful of years afterwards.  I think I completed 4 or 5 years, my best fundraising year being for 2010, when I raised $3,100.  That got me a green jersey, which means I was a rider that raised over $2,500.  We were usually the top fundraising team and it was great to be a part of it all.  The year that I raised $3,100 I held a 50 mile Run-a-Thon (November 8th, 2009) at the middle school I taught at and raise 50 miles throughout the day and asked for pledges (I did the same thing in 2014, 60 miles, raised over $4,500 here in Milwaukee for MS Run the US).  It was the start of using my running to fund raise for MS.

world run day

2009- To raise money for the MS Bike Tour

I still enjoy biking, but when I moved away from Beaver Dam and was no longer a teacher, I found it a lot harder to train, since I didn’t have summers off and I didn’t live out in the “country” anymore.  I bike mostly to get from place to place here, and as cross training for running.  I have not seen Chuck, Andy or their family for several years, but I am connected with them on Facebook and I am forever grateful for their support and sparking my interest in this cause.  Chuck lives with MS, yet every year he rides and raises tens of thousands of dollars himself for the Bike Tour.  His is a name that is honored year after year at the awards ceremony that is held at the end of day one of the ride.  He is an inspiration to me, and he is one of the many reasons that I am a part of MS Run the US.  Sunday he and his family will be in my thoughts every step of the way through New York.  I am very excited to finally be running in this marathon, it is one that I have applied to be a part of for several years through the lottery with no luck, until finally last year I qualified by time and got accepted right away. 🙂

Thank you Chuck and the Scherwinski family!!!  This one is for YOU!! 🙂

Run Happy,

Nikki 🙂

Feel free to make a donation to help fight MS!  Make it in honor or memory of someone else, or just because it is a great organization that helps those who live with this disease.  Use the link below to visit my site.  100% tax deductible!  My goal is to raise $10,000+ by mid June, 2016.

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/nikkicahen/msruntheus2016relay

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Milwaukee Lake Front Marathon and MS

Tomorrow I will be running my first race “in honor” of those with MS (multiple sclerosis), specifically, Lucas Robak and Brett Gawlick.  I have not personally met either of these men, but I was connected with them through friends on Facebook who know and care about them.  I have talked by email and phone with Lucas, and over Facebook with Brett since I got introduced to them in August.  My goal this year as an MS Ambassador and Relay Runner for the 2016 run across America is to make more personal connections with those who live with MS.  I want to feel like my running is even more meaningful than it was last year.  And the best way to do that is to reach out to individuals who live with the disease every day.

If you know someone personally with MS, I ask that you contact me via FB or email (nrcahen@hotmail.com) and give me their contact info so I can personally reach out them them and let them know about MS Run the US and our mission to heal, cure, and help those with the disease.  I also ask that you consider making a donation in their honor.   They need to know we care, especially for the days that this disease hits them the hardest.   From what I know about MS, there are good days, okay days and very bad days.  I do not have the disease, so I do not speak from any type of experience except from what I have heard from others.

Here is my fundraising site.  In the comment of your donation, mention the person you are honoring and consider sharing with them.  It may make it a “good” day for them. 🙂  Thank you for caring!

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/nikkicahen/msruntheus2016relay

Lucas Robak was introduced to me, and has been honored through donation on my site from Keith Cumiskey, who is a fellow runner friend of mine.  Lucas is from Milwaukee, WI.  He is the Executive Director for Melody of Life Foundation, Author, Speaker, Trainer, and Workshop Facilitator.  His hobbies/Interests include Reading, writing, learning, experimenting, growing, free thinking, adding value, receiving “Thank You’s”, fantasizing, creating, innovating, being a “Mover & Shaker”, NLP, MER®, hypnosis, coaching, servant leadership, networking, and producing results instead of finding excuses.  He was diagnosed with MS on May 30, 2014.

Lucas founded Melody of Life Foundation, Inc. in the summer of 2008.   By August 2009, he received Melody of Life Foundation’s 501(c)3 status from the IRS.   Melody of Life Foundation has helped numerous families financially with their extremely high medicare, medicade, and insurance deductibles.  The average bill from medicare and medicade that these families faced every six months was over $5,000.  Just like MS Run the US, this is another example of someone who created an organization made to help others.  To read more about Lucas, see his bio on the founder page of Melody of Life.  http://www.melodyoflifefoundation.org/founder/

stop ms

Brett Gawlick was introduced to me by my neighbor Leah, who I have gotten to know better over the 5 months because I walk her dog when she is away.  She is also a runner. 🙂  Brett worked for Leah several years ago when she owned a bar.  They have kept in touch over the years since he worked for her.  I am also running a half marathon in honor of Brett in about a month.   Brett works with the Green Bay Packers as Head of Security at the Tundra Tail Gate Zone at Lambeau Field, as well as a sales job.  He lives in West Milwaukee.  His hobbies include photography, hiking, art, painting, yoga, drawing, movies, and meditation.  He was diagnosed with MS December, 23, 2014, and still feels that MS is very new to him.  The unpredictability of the disease is one of the things that scares him the most about it.  He never knows how he is going to feel one day to the next.  Since being diagnosed he has lost 90 lbs, has concentration lapses, shakiness, mood changes, blurring, balance issues and head aches and pains and severe inflammation.  The diagnosis has been hard to come to terms with, but he does not give up hope and knows the best way through it is to keep moving forward.   He has an increased appreciation for those who show that they care and support him, as well as for others who feel suffering and pain.  Brett is training to be an advocate for the mentally ill with NAMI and attends conferences to continue this education.  One of his goals is to become a full time advocate by early next year. He would  be helping in the area of mental health and coping with illnesses such as MS, cancer, lupus, MD, diabetes. etc.

wrist

Thank you for the support you give to MS Run the US and my fundraising efforts, because it helps people like Lucas and Brett.  And it helps fund new medications to help them get through this disease as well as hopefully one day find a cure.  So tomorrow when this marathon starts to hurt, I will remember why I run and keep putting one foot in front of the other.  Because I have a bigger purpose and to finish for myself.  And that will keep me going.  I got your back Lucas and Brett!!

lakefront

PLEASE SHARE my fundraising page, (and this blog if you would like…) The more shares, the more people who can potentially help us make a difference!!

Run & GIVE Happy Friends,

Nikki 🙂

MS Run the US Runner and Ambassador!