Running for a Reason

GWCI Participates in 38th Annual Marine Corps Marathon
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Marathon runners' legs and feet

Alexis Janda never pictured herself as a runner. “The word wasn’t part of my vocabulary,” she said. However, the word cancer sadly was. When Janda was 10 years old, her father, Michael, passed away from stomach lining cancer. Her uncle Dan survived Histiocytosis cancer, which represents a group of rare disorders involving specific cells that normally have important roles as part of the immune system.

In October 2012, after watching runners cross the finish line at the U.S. Army Military District of Washington’s Army Ten-Miler — the second largest race after the Philadelphia Broad Street Run in the United States— Janda thought to herself, “if they can do this, so can I.”

Later that month, Janda signed up for her first 5,000 meter, or 5K, run and surprised herself by actually completing the race. In November, she decided to put her name in the lottery for the Nike Women's Half Marathon in D.C.

“I figured I would let fate decide if I should run 13.1 miles,” she said. “Fate responded with a yes.” Janda dedicated that race to her father. “I finished that race, running the entire way,” she added. That day, Janda discovered an inner strength that she never knew existed, but was clearly there all along.

This year, Janda ran for her uncle Dan as a member of the 2013 GW Cancer Institute (GWCI) Marine Corps Marathon Team. Janda was one of 49 10K runners and 45 marathoners who participated in the 38th annual marathon to benefit the Institute. The 26.2 mile course began in front of the Pentagon and made its way around northwest Washington, D.C., before ending at the foot of the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va.

The team raised more than $46,000 to support GWCI's efforts to support patients and eliminate cancer disparities. The money raised will help maintain the Institute’s quality programs, increase educational offerings to healthcare professionals, and support cancer patients, survivors, and their families.

“Participating in the Marine Corp Marathon is a great opportunity for GWCI to be a part of an iconic Washingtonian event,” said Mandi Pratt-Chapman, M.A., associate director of GWCI. “Our team has continued to grow over the years and that is a true testament to the community’s dedication to our vision — to set the standard for patient-centered care and eliminate cancer disparities.”

“When my uncle was diagnosed, science and technology could only do so much for his healing process,” Janda said. “But each year that researchers spend on cancer discovery, more patients join my uncle in health.”

The 2013 GWCI Marine Corps Marathon Team was sponsored by Modell's Sporting Goods, Corner Bakery Cafe, Potomac River Running, and Buca di Beppo Italian Restaurant.

Janda hopes that through GWCI’s cancer research, “we will be able to take fate into our own hands and cancer will no longer get to decide who lives and who dies.”

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