By Kristina Scala, Daily Local News
Posted: 05/02/14, 12:01 AM EDT |
Some say runners have a reason for running. Those reasons range from running in memory of a lost loved one, in honor of someone who was diagnosed with a terminal illness, or to raise money for an organization. Other might run to get in shape or overcome an obstacle.
More than 150 people are running together in the Broad Street Run for one reason with Team CMMD – to band together and honor hundreds and thousands who are diagnosed with cancer and those who have experienced someone battle cancer.
Team CMMD managed to raise more than $150,000 for the American Cancer Society and plans to run in the Broad Street race in Philadelphia on Sunday.
“I started running just for exercise,” said Dr. Christine Meyer, a family physician in Exton and founder of CMMD (which stands for Christine Meyer MD). “This team has changed the reason I run.”
Meyer said the group was formed in on New Year’s Eve in 2012 and it went from two people, to over 40 and then tripled this year to 161 members. She said this is the second year the group is running.
Most of the runners are from Chester County. Others come from New Jersey, Pittsburgh and even one from Colorado, she said.
Meyer’s had a reason other than getting in shape for running in the Broad Street Run. She said she started the team after her aunt and two patients were diagnosed with cancer.
Meyer’s said her aunt – Venis Fanous who has practiced internal medicine for the past 25 years in New Jersey – was the reason she has been practicing medicine for the past 15 years. She said she is one of the reasons she picked herself up during a time of feeling “down in the dumps” to raise money for the ACS.
She said she felt “useless” when three people close to her, including her mentor, were diagnosed with serious forms of cancer. She said her aunt was diagnosed and survived colon cancer, one of her patents was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma and another patent died a month ago from stage 4 colon cancer.
“I think people around here are sick and tired of cancer,” Meyers said while sitting in her office Tuesday.
She said all of the runners in the group have a story and a connection with cancer.
Pottstown resident Jamie Stanek lost his father to cancer and his wife, Christine, is a skin cancer survivor who was recently diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. He said he hates running and only runs with CMMD group members. He said Meyer’s enthusiasm helps him get through.
“I don’t have a personal vendetta against cancer,” he said in an email. “I think it is an awful disease that takes too many good people too soon. I just want to actively work to alleviate the suffering of this world. And I can. And I will. With my friends.”
Tom Kuhn has worked for Meyer for six years. He said this is his second year running in the race Sunday.
Kuhn was struck by cancer, losing his brother in 2004 and sister-in-law in 2006 from breast cancer. He said watching his brother and sister-in-law struggling to battle cancer he decided he wanted to become a nurse.
He said the formation of the team and running in the Broad Street Run aids in remembering those who lost a loved on to cancer.
“The American Cancer Society’s Broad Street Run has been very therapeutic for me and everyone on our team that has lost a loved one to cancer,” Kuhn said.
Maria Ungaro had a different life struggle and also watched her best friend fight and survive cancer.
Ungaro lost more than 130 pounds, ended an abusive relationship and will run in the Broad Street Run for the first time Sunday.
“I was also a patient of Christine’s,” she said. “She recognized my situation and in fact, even pleaded with me to seek help or she’d intervene. I started to lose weight and couldn’t hide behind the fat anymore. Christine was my biggest cheerleader, once she recognized me in her office, that is.”
She said she will run to honor her friend and others affected by cancer, but is proud of her life changing actions driven by Meyer.
“I was told I couldn’t do it, not fit, for real runners, you’re not good enough, until I conceded,” she said about her abusive relationship that caused her to miss the run last year. “I did not run Broad Street that year. Christine was disappointed, I was devastated. That March of 2013, I ended the volatile relationship and vowed to myself in 2014 I will run Broad Street.”
Although many of the members strive to finish the race for a similar cause, they have formed a running family and show support for all levels of runners. Meyer said the group is made up of stay-at-home moms, professionals, mechanics and more.
“When they are on the trail everyone is the same,” Meyer said, adding she expects the race on Sunday to be the same and her team will stand out wearing bright green shirts with the team logo.
She said when a large group, sometimes 30 or more, run 10 miles every Sunday they support one another for every stride taken.
“No one would leave until the last runner came in,” she said about the Sunday runs.
The team over exceed its goal by $50,000 for ACS before the race, but they aren’t done.
Meyer said people can donate for her team’s cause until May 18.
To make a donation, visit http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/DetermiNation/DNFY11PA?pg=team&fr_id=62089&team_id=1550029.
You can also find the team on Facebook by visiting www.facebook.com/teamcmmd.
Follow Daily Local News staff writer Kristina Scala on Twitter @Scala_Kris and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KristinaScalaDLN.