ChadTough Chicago Marathon

Running for a Purpose: Jeanine LaGorio’s Story

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I love to run, but I learned a long time ago from personal experience that running a marathon is hard. It is obviously a difficult physical feat, and finding the time as a full-time working mom and wife to train properly is nearly impossible.

I never planned to run a full marathon again.

Then last fall, a little blurb appeared on the ChadTough Facebook page asking if anyone would be interested in running the Chicago Marathon on behalf of The ChadTough Foundation, and I knew immediately that running another marathon was inevitable for me.

My Why

Jeaning LaGorio

(L-R) Jacob, Ron, Jeanine, and Anna.

Chad Carr’s story was just the tip of the iceberg. As time went on and as I became more invested and involved in The ChadTough Foundation and as a ChadTough Champion, I realized how many precious babies are taken by Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). I realized how many families are shaken and devastated by this cruel disease. And I became more and more frustrated at the lack of funding and awareness of something so deadly.

As a ChadTough Champion, I am constantly learning about more children being diagnosed with this, and yet, it is considered a “rare” disease and there is virtually no federal funding for finding a cure. I might not have personally known Chad or Tommy or Emma or any of the other children diagnosed, but the fact is that I could. DIPG doesn’t discriminate, and it could attack someone I know someday.

Because of this, it has become my mission to raise awareness and funding to protect these children and their families … their lives matter and they deserve hope.

Pushing Through Pain

So despite being busy, I started training again. It was not according to a recommended schedule. As a busy mom, I did the best I could when I could. And when it got physically difficult due to injuries (and it did … oh! It did!), I focused on my “why.”

Yes, I was doing an activity I love and there are bragging rights that go along with running a marathon, but the children and families with DIPG carried me over the rough spots. They got me through each and every dark spot because — every time I got frustrated — I remembered why I was doing this. My pain was nothing compared to theirs, and this was the least I could do to help them.

It worked. Every time I had a frustrating training day or had physical therapy, my focus would become clear about why I was doing this.

Spreading the Word

ChadTough Chicago Marathon

Matt Barnes, Denise Dean, and Jeanine LaGorio training together in February.

Committing to the marathon was not just giving up my time and pushing myself physically, it required raising a minimum of $2,500.

I cannot personally imagine being out of my comfort zone more than when asking my loved ones or strangers for money. I have never so much as asked anyone I know to buy candy for one of my children’s activities. It is not easy, but — again — I would remind myself that this was not about me.

So I put it out on Facebook occasionally. I would post a link to my fundraiser, and — just as importantly — I would give people a reminder about The ChadTough Foundation and its purpose. I would send e-mails to small groups of individuals at a time. I would go more in-depth and remind them that every little bit helps.

I would hold small bake sales at work. I had work done on my house and would talk to the contractors about my mission … I got a donation from the company that installed my blinds, and I don’t even remember talking to them about it!

Talking about ChadTough and DIPG and my marathon just became so routine that I raised $2,500. It took time and effort and a little discomfort, but it is nothing I wouldn’t do again and again.

The Bigger Picture

There is still no cure for DIPG. But in the few years I have been aware of its existence, I personally am feeling like there is finally hope. There are new discoveries and there is an awareness that wasn’t there before.

I can always brag that I ran a marathon, but the thing that I am most proud of, however, is that one day when there IS a cure for DIPG, I get to say that I was a part of that. I get to say that — in my own small way — I made a difference.

One day, hopefully sooner than later, we will hear of that breakthrough and the word “cure,” and I will be reminded that it was worth every physical ache and pain. I will be reminded that I helped save lives. And I know in that moment, that it was worth it all and that I would do it all over again.

Are you interested in running on behalf of The ChadTough Foundation? Sign up here!

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