From the Heart: Sondra Rose Completes New York Marathon at 77

“I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” ~John D. Rockefeller

I run for selfish reasons. Running allows me to indulge in an occasional bowl of ice cream, keeping my weight in check and keeps my stress levels manageable, while I try to balance this crazy rollercoaster of life. To wrap my head around running for someone else is hard for me. Running hurts, especially 26.2 miles, but that’s exactly what Sondra Rose did at the 2015 New York Marathon.  I’ll do charity runs and pick events that donate a larger portion of proceeds to projects I believe in, but that’s my extent of running for others. Sondra Rose raised $14,000 since July for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, completed the New York City Marathon and just celebrated her 78th birthday. This grandma from Long Island  is an inspiration.

Rose started running just over seven years ago after her grandson was diagnosed with a childhood cancer. Jack, her grandson, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma at age three and went through two years of chemotherapy.  “I had to come to grips with the fact that there was nothing I could do to change the diagnosis,”  Rose said. She used running as a coping mechanism until she asked herself what she could do. Since then, she has completed 13 half-marathons, two full marathons, and doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. Instead, she’s using her time in the spotlight to continue to raise money for the cause so close to her heart.

It took her over nine hours to complete the marathon. It was dark and cold and she was offered rides to the finish line, as she was clearly past the cut-off times. She pressed on and finished. It’s that determination that has helped her raise around $350,000 to fight cancer by hosting raffles, luncheons and organizing wellness trips. “I’m so grateful for the research that someone raised money for Jack to have, so I’m trying to do that every day for others,” according to this amazing grandma of four.

Never giving up, Rose crossed the finish line as race organizers were cleaning up. Most of the spectators were long gone, but she was still greeted by cheering fans and her husband, who thinks she’s Wonder Woman. This 26.2 was a family affair from start to finish. Her grandson inspired her to start it, her daughter joined her for the last 10 miles and her husband met her for a kiss at the finish line.

Sondra Rose refused to let a cancer diagnosis limit her. Instead, she used it to empower, not only herself, but those around her.  Jack went through two years of chemotherapy and is in remission, now enjoying the things normal 11-year old boys do. Just because he’s in remission, doesn’t mean she’s done raising money for cancer research, she’s hoping that her time in the spotlight will only benefit her cause. If this woman can keep moving forward for nine hours to finish the New York Marathon just before her 78th birthday, there is no stopping her. I want that heart and drive, to set a goal and not stop until I reach it, to have a passion to help others, most of them strangers. All of us can strive to have a little more of this in us. I agree with her husband, Sondra Rose is Wonder Woman.

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