Race Recap from the 2008 San Francisco Marathon

The 2008 Summer Olympics just concluded and I, as many others, was mesmerized by the coverage of all the athletes and their stories, stories of sacrifice, dedication, determination and hope. For some of our Team Parkinson athletes, this SF Marathon was their Olympics. They attained goals they had set for themselves that perhaps others may not have thought possible, but that they knew in their hearts they were ready for, through their own process of not only training, but sheer will and determination -- they told themselves I can do this, I will do this!

This year’s SF Marathon event was dedicated to the memory of John Campbell, whose wife Pamela and daughter Alison flew out from New Jersey to join us. We first met the Campbells at our booth at the Expo 2 years ago. John, a two-time NYC Marathon runner, was confined to a wheelchair at that time, but we could see the sparkle in his eye as he and his family proudly represented Team Parkinson -- his wife and daughter running the second half marathon in 2006, and Pamela and John completing the 5k last year, with John proudly holding the Team Parkinson sign from his wheelchair out on the race course! They are such a loving family and we were so proud to be able to honor John this year. Pamela and Allison Campbell gave very moving dedications to John at our team dinner, and their wonderful speeches are posted elsewhere on this website for you to read.

There were many other inspiring stories this year in San Francisco. To name a few:

  • Athletes such as Karen Fernandez and Marian Bumala, both Parkinson Patients who found each other online and became friends, and committed to finishing their first 5k together along with teams of family members and friends. They both showed such amazing spirit and joy and are truly an inspiration!
  • Gregg Riehl, with us for the third year in SF, who, after completing the 5k the past two years, took on the Half Marathon this year and finished with wife Tina, who had not trained for the race but joined him at mile 5 for the last 8 miles, by his side!
  • John Ball, Team Parkinson co-founder and hero to many, who ran his fourth fastest marathon time ever, 4:23:22 (and his 19th marathon overall), on arguably one of the tougher marathon courses, and who did not start running marathons until after his PD diagnosis.
  • The Driscoll family, whose daughters Joy, Madelyn and Amy start an hour early each year (4:30am) to run the first half marathon so they can finish in time to run the 5k afterwards with their father Dan, another of our PD athletes. The Driscoll’s have also been our top fundraisers each year, having been with us the past 4 years at the SF Marathon, raising over $30,000 in the process!

The Olympic motto of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games was “Light the Fire Within”, and I believe our team accomplished that on many levels this year in San Francisco, in terms of spirit, participation and fundraising! This was our most successful year yet in SF, with close to $70,000 raised to date, and approximately 100 athletes among the 3 events – full marathon, half marathon and 5k! With over 40 participating in the 5k we had a great showing out on the course in our bright teal Team P shirts to represent our cause!

Race weekend started out with the two-day race expo, and Team Parkinson once again had a booth to welcome our athletes and let others know about our organization. Myself, along with John and Edna Ball and Carol Walton and representatives from our premier sponsor Valeant Pharmaceuticals – Cassidy Ball on Friday and Debra Lee on Saturday, manned the booth and we met many wonderful people who found out about Team P for the first time because of our presence there. Valeant representative Ashima Sarin, who was so helpful at our expo booth last year, joined us at our Team Dinner Saturday night. There are often some emotional moments at the booth as we meet people who know someone with PD and are seeking advice, hope and friendship, and are excited to have discovered us!

We had an emotional and inspiring team dinner at South Beach Café, our new Team P SF home! The food and service was amazing and with 60 people in attendance we had the restaurant to ourselves. It was a very intimate and moving night. In addition to the Campbell’s, we had another moving speech from Lisa Adams, whose husband Kevin was battling not only PD, but cancer as well. I first saw them in LA in March, where Kevin completed the LA marathon. Sadly, he lost his race against cancer a few weeks later, but his spirit lives on in his wife and his children, Ethan and Amanda, who came up from Southern California to join us as well along with many of their family members. They are truly an amazing family!

We had Team Wiz Wits joining us this year – a group of friends who went to school together in Philadelphia and were running in honor of Team Member Greg Hallahan’s mother with PD. They showed incredible enthusiasm and spirit, and we loved their special t-shirts they created of a Philly cheese steak with running shoes on!

We have 2 athletes that have been with us all six years in San Francisco, Kurt Fielder and Frank Markowitz. Frank runs in memory of his father, and Kurt in honor of wife Lynn. We are so thankful to both for their commitment and dedication to Team Parkinson! They are both quite speedy runners as well!

A big thank you to all of our individuals (too many to list here!) and teams:
Boomers Against Parkinson’s, Btrfkynana’s PD Supporters, Buckles and Spurs, Dynamic Demgens, Franklin Templeton, Special K, Team Driscoll-Durling, Team Nollie, Team Walk for Love, Team Wiz Wits, and The Best in The West, for their time, commitment and fundraising efforts for Team Parkinson – together, we will help find a cure and put an end to Parkinson’s disease!

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, July 26th, 2009 for the next SF marathon!

Jen Bugnatto
SF Bay Area Chair for Team Parkinson

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