Submitted by Brandon Thorpe (2014 Jack’s Marathon Team – Chicago)
Over the past few years, I have taken up endurance sports and have had an amazing time participating in races of various distances. Since the beginning of this hobby, there has been a relative (Sally) that has had a huge influence on my continued participation in these competitions.
In 2011, doctors discovered that Sally had a brain tumor due to the reoccurrence of melanoma. She was 45 years old. She underwent surgery and three weeks later, my family and I traveled to Naperville, Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with her and her family. We decided to participate in the Annual Naperville Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. Just weeks post-operation, Sally had the strength and will to complete this 5K event.
It was at that moment that a wave of inspiration was thrust upon me.
I wanted to live with that determination that she so eloquently demonstrated with each step of that race. A few months after the race, the cancer continued its course, and sadly, Sally passed away. In honor of her determination and drive, I decided to run my first marathon. If she could complete a 5K weeks after a major surgery, I could get myself across the finish line, for her. Months of training went by and when race day finally came, I wanted so badly to make her proud.
I wrote “Sally” down my right leg as a reminder of who and why I was doing this.
Her spirit and will were with me through all 26.2 miles.
After this race, I was hooked and continued to compete. In 2012, my family and I returned to Naperville to run the annual Turkey Trot with Sally’s sons and husband. It was not the same without her.
Not a mile went by that I didn’t think about her and what she accomplished a year earlier. In October of 2013, I had the honor of participating in the most inspiring and motivating event.
“This Run’s For Jack” was an event that brought together all those that had been affected by melanoma.
At this race, I was able to see how far and wide Sally’s influence truly was. Hundreds of her family, friends, and co-workers joined together to participate as a team. Being a member of Team “Remembering Sally’s Smile” was a moving and emotional experience.
At this event to raise money for melanoma research and awareness, I was able to finally give my endurance challenges a new meaning. Once I learned that this race organization was putting together a charity team for the 2014 Chicago Marathon, I wanted to get involved. This team would give me the opportunity to raise money for a cause that had impacted my entire family.
My goal is to raise $1,000, in Sally’s honor for vital melanoma research and awareness programs.
Her smile will never be forgotten.