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The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is the pinnacle of achievement for elite athletes and everyday runners alike. Marathon Runners worldwide participate. The ChadTough Foundation is honored to have 7 members of Team ChadTough participating in the 2019 event. We wish them the best of luck and are so thankful for their efforts in raising funds to fight pediatric brain cancer. Please take a minute to read their stories below.

Tom Ruddy

I’m running in honor of my son, Tommy. My son is my motivation and the reason I started to run long distance.

Training has been going well. I’ve also been training for a triathlon at the same time. I’m feeling very excited about the marathon and looking forward to the finish line!

Before my son passed, I had no drive to do anything like a marathon. Watching my son fight DIPG showed me what real strength looks like. My son is my hero and helps me see the art of the possible.

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Ken Buron

This will be my 3rd year running Chicago for my daughter, Emma, who was lost to DIPG.

My motivation is from Emma. Running has helped with my mental health, and having a day (marathon race day) dedicated to her is a great tribute to her and all the kids we are losing to this terminal Cancer. My neighbor/training partner, Drew Slaughter, has been with me every step of the way. Every year I tell myself this will be my last marathon, then I think to myself…these kids & families didn’t ask nor deserve a death sentence, and I talk myself back into it every year. ChadTough offers a great platform and awareness/research efforts are ongoing. I believe all of this effort will make a huge difference in finding treatments and hopefully a shining light at the end of this long tunnel.

Training has always been a little difficult for me. Trying to juggle family, work, and getting the runs in can be mentally and physically draining. My wife, Vanessa, and I have three other children including a newborn. Although I’m the one running and putting in the time and effort, my wife, Vanessa, is the real “Rockstar”. She is the glue that holds our family together and picks up the slack without complaint. Not sure how I could do this without her by my side. I work long days and with the summer coming to an end, I usually find myself running in the dark with a headlamp after work. I try to tell myself, “no excuses”. The loss of Emma gives me the motivation to run after a long day at work even when I really dread it. My runs give me refuge from my busy life and help to keep the depression and survivors guilt at bay. I have been dealing with numerous injuries, but I keep it going for Emma. I run because Emma can’t!!!

I’m excited that Tom Ruddy will be running this year with us. Tom lost his son, Tommy, from DIPG. We live 4 miles from each other and our children got diagnosed at about the same time…crazy to think DIPG is so “rare”!!! We have become good friends and grown together through losing our children. We will never stop honoring them and telling their stories for as long as we live. I thank ChadTough for everything they do and am honored to run in 2019. Hopefully my body will allow me to run again in 2020!

Fundraising Page  ChadTough Feature

Carey Riemersma

I am running in honor of Tommy Ruddy, but also Chad and Emma Buron.

This will be my second year running Chicago on Team ChadTough. I had briefly heard of DIPG because of Chad. Being Michigan fans, it was hard to NOT see his story. And it was heartbreaking, of course. Then, in 2016 when Tommy was diagnosed, it really got my attention. He was local. The Ruddys live down the street from me in the town I grew up in, and I had an older daughter and a younger boy, just like Amanda does. The Ruddys were normal people, just like my family. It was then that it hit me that this disease can TRULY affect anyone. I really felt drawn to his fight and was and still am heartbroken along the way. Then to see Emma, another local child, go through the same fight….just unbelievable. I knew then that I had to get involved. I started by running the first RunTough for Team Tommy, but knew I had to do more. Since then I have been an advocate and a regular volunteer. I could never imagine what their amazingly strong parents go through every day, and I will never quit doing whatever I can to raise awareness of this awful disease.

Training has been tough on me this year, to be honest. It has been hard to juggle my family, work, and training, especially during the summer, and I have struggled with injury more than I have in the past. However, I am feeling good about the race and although I’m nervous, I am excited to cross that finish line again! I may have tough days, but I constantly remind myself that it’s nothing compared to what Amanda, Tammi and Vanessa go through daily. It puts things in perspective.

What do you most want people to know about your Team ChadTough experience (could be why you are doing it, what it has taken to get you to the point of being able to run a marathon, or any meaningful story that has been connected to this experience)?

Being a part of Team ChadTough is very emotional and an overall humbling experience. With all of the miles you spend out on the trails, it’s impossible to not think about the kids and the families that you are doing it for. During my training for 2018, I said I would never run another marathon, but running in honor of Tommy Ruddy, Emma Buron, and Chad and all of the other kids stolen by DIPG was such an inspiring and emotional experience that I knew I had to do it again. When the sign up came out for the 2019 team, I didn’t hesitate. I am excited to be a member of the team again and honored to run alongside Tom Ruddy, Kenny Buron, and all of my other amazing team members.

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Rob Doss

I am running for Chad Carr, Emma Buron, Tommy Ruddy, and all of the children afflicted with DIPG. I want to help The ChadTough Foundation find a cure for this terrible disease.

My brother, Larry, shared a post on Facebook to join the Carr family at the Chicago Marathon in August, 2018. Later in October when the registration period opened for Chicago 2019, I discovered that I had a guaranteed entry because I had met the qualifying time standard based on my finishing time in the 2017 Tokyo Marathon. Once I received my acceptance letter into the 2019 Chicago Marathon, I contacted The ChadTough Foundation and told them that I would like to help. I joined Team ChadTough in October, 2019. This will be my 15th Marathon overall, but 1st Marathon for Team ChadTough! I am looking forward to the experience and helping The ChadTough Foundation raise funds to find a cure for DIPG.

I have logged over 900 miles so far this year. I am behind in my training in terms of mileage and consistency. Life sometimes gets in the way of training. However, I am staying positive about it and training when I can. I am excited about the race and I will be ready to give it my best effort on October 13th. I will run because I still can, and I will run for those who can’t. My plan is to keep my finishing time under 4 hours at this point. The most important thing about this race is that I have set a target to raise $5,000 for The ChadTough Foundation. I have currently raised over $3,300. I am working to raise another $1,700 before race day to hit my fundraising goal! I have a great group of supporters! A big Thank You to all my family and friends who continue to support my charitable endeavors.

My oldest daughter, Emily inspired me to run my first Marathon in 2011 at the age of 45. I started out to improve my health and overall fitness. I continue to run because it inspires me to do better in life. The running community is filled with great people doing great things! Running is truly global and diverse, yet runners share a common bond for their love of humanity and nature. God has blessed me with a loving family and a good life. I try to give back to others to show my gratitude and humility. I have been following the Carr family and ChadTough story. Their story has touched so many including me. I knew I was in a position to help because I love running and helping others through acts of kindness and charity. I wish the Carr family and The ChadTough Foundation all the best in their pursuit to find a cure for DIPG!

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Drew Slagter

This is my third year running the Chicago marathon for Team ChadTough. I continue to run for our neighbors’/friends’ daughter. Emma Buron, who passed away from DIPG. I do a lot of my training for the marathons with her dad who is running his third year, as well. Running in memory of her is my motivation for Chicago each year. Not only that, but also to help in the continued effort to find a cure and raise awareness. These families all lost their children way to early. If we can help prevent this from happening to other families in the future, that would be awesome.

My training this year has been going good. I’ve learned a lot since my first marathon a couple years ago. Ken and I have been putting in the miles this summer, and I’m looking forward to seeing how our training pays off.

I guess what I’d want people to know most about my experience is you can do anything you put your mind to. I was looking for some way I could help fight for a cause for awhile. This is something that gets so little funding and not much attention. It has been great to see awareness spreading and things evolving because of ChadTough. I’ve only been a really small part of that, but it feels good knowing I am part of it.

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Ashley Everin

I am running for Sophie Varney.

Training is going well and I’m getting more confident in my ability to complete 26.2!

Sophie is doing well. Her last MRI scan was stable. No change or growth.

My sincere gratitude to those who have supported me so far, financially, emotionally and physically! I could not do this without all of you.

When Sophie was diagnosed with DIPG, I immediately began researching ways to help support her family. I had heard of The ChadTough Foundation through social media and went right to their site. There, I learned I could fundraise by running in the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon (a task I was very intimidated by)! It was too late to run for the ChadTough team directly, but they told me if I secured a spot in the race, I could join the team. With the help of some friends, I received entry into the race. So this winter, I began my journey cross training and running (even on the sub-zero days in snow and slush). I wear a bracelet gifted to me by her mom, #sophiestrong, that constantly reminds me that the challenges this race will bring is nothing in comparison to what Sophie faces.

Fundraising Page  ChadTough Feature

Jason Wilkerson

This will be my second year running the Chicago Marathon with ChadTough. Running for the team is a prime example of what one person can do. Running is a very selfish activity that can occupy numerous hours away from friends and family, especially when training for a marathon. Using that time to help spread awareness and educate those you run in to about DIPG is a perfect example of what one person can do. We run because we can, the kids and families affected by DIPG face a race that currently has no happy finish line with medals. If we can raise awareness and funds to help promote research to find a cure for this monster, then we will continue to run!

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