My Charity Runner Story in Honor of Mary Beth Reddell

“I share my story, because I can… In the circle of life, we All touch eachother”
Mary Beth Reddell, American Airlines, National volunteer leader, Relay For Life

I want to share my story – my story of will, of dedication, committment, training, years of racing, competing and the hours of time that I have put in preparation for the upcoming race day – another day at the start line of a race, this time a marathon – the Vermont City marathon.

It doesn’t always come easy, getting out of bed each morning, being motivated by my loving husband, Steve (who yells at me to get my _____ going and catch those ponytails!) and my rambunctious “full of energy” son to the each race, looking for that “me” time to put myself to work – to increase in mileage, speed or endurance as a whole.

But when I can perform like I have proven in the recent past – with a seventh place master finish with a 3:05 at Boston and then 7th master again in San Fransisco at the Nike Woman’s marathon this past fall. I qualified in 2008, at age 43 for the World Championship 1/2 ironman and the US National Championships for the Olympic distance – – on my own raw talent, because anyone that really knows me, knows I am of the “less is more theory”. I am self coached with my Ipod nano, my training buddy Oakley (the yellow lab) and the support of my family. I research training plans online, communicate online with other runners and just get up and put my feet on the pavement each and every morning.

This story of will and results is something to share, but now as I dedicate this run to the American Cancer Society through Charity Runner – recently renamed DeterminNation – to make a difference in the lives of others…. through donor dollars generously given in my quest to run this marathon. I think about the word determination. The determination of athletes in endurance events, making a difference through the work of the American Cancer Society in the nationwide fight against cancer, all cancers, improving the quality of life of cancer survivors, supporting caregivers and community members working to find a cure for this disease.

This is a cause that truly motivates me – – and I realize is about the journey of those cancer survivors that I want to honor and dedicate my race.

“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.” – Gail Devers

So now as I tell my story – I want to share the story of a national volunteer leader that I have had the pleasure and the honor to get to know and care about deeply. Through her story of survival – – of cancer – – her DetermiNation – – to fight – – gives me the power to fight harder, to raise more money. In my 15 years with the Society, it is survivors like her that drive this home for me, for all – – to truly fight, make a difference and hope to some day rid this world of cancer. I have decided to dedicate my marathon – my DetermiNation as a Charity Runner for ACS in her honor.

This is the American Way Magazine article from a couple of years ago… has some examples of how she uses humor “chemo carwash” above that shows the humor and strength of this amazing woman – she is a “Hero of Hope” in Texas, the High Plains Division – – and is a true fighter – – determined to the core – – a true role model and someone I truly respect and admire.

A couple of weeks ago (just fresh out of another round of chemotherapy) was the annual “Executive Idol” where she and two of her friends including one of the VPs dressed up like ABBA and sang super-trouper during the Executive Idol contest at AA the day of the Relay they all participate in! She raises thousands of dollars through her own Relay team and multiplies that by making one on one visits to hubs to get others in American Airlines rallied around the cause. Truly amazing.

I don’t even know how many times she’s lost her hair, her fingers have a constant tingling sensation (or did anyway) her hair fell out but at one point her eyelashes grew so much she kept having to cut them, her taste buds are constantly messed up, but she is alway fiesty and always positive so even her articles don’t share negativety or sadness, they are always upbeat! This picture of Mary Beth was when we recognized American Airlines for their accomplishments as a part of the National Team Program. Her comment to me was that she “loves the photo because she chemo and her lashes were long due to the side effects…it was freaky!”

From Hero’s of Hope program in High Plains – MB shares her story:

This is from MB’s care page:
My story is very simple. I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer at age 41. I didn’t have the trendy cancer – I had an old people disease! IT was in my colon, abdomen, and liver – they said there was no cure and gave me a “pat” on the head dismissing me – as if they assumed I was going to die. That made me very angry – as I thought God was the only one who knew when the time would come for me to go. That was almost 4-1/2 years ago. I’ve had six major surgeries. Countless chemos and radiation. I’ve fought it off 4 times and its back again for another round. This time its in my lung and back in the liver. I’m giving it all I have and with the love of my friends and family – I will win the fight. This fight also gave me the chance to connect with the American Cancer Society and I am a Hero of Hope, a spokesperson for ACS and the Relay for Life. Having cancer changed my life, and through my struggles I have been blessed with all of you.

I share my story because I can, and through the circle of life, we all touch each other.

More to come on my dear friend, stellar ACS volunteer and cancer survivor – Mary Beth. Stay tuned…..

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Nancy Cook 2021

About Nancy

Nancy Peck Cook is a trainer and speaker who has presented in front of large and small audiences for the past 25 years.  Her work as an executive and volunteer trainer for the American Cancer Society during the growth of the signature activity Relay For Life trained professionals to be more confident and successful in their roles. 

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