Come race day Nov. 4, thousands of runners will take to the streets of New York City with the hope of crossing the finish line after 26 grueling miles.
Jennifer Cunningham is training for her first marathon on the dirt paths of the Old Croton Aqueduct near her home in Hastings. Unlike many of her competitors, Cunningham isn’t trying to beat a personal best.
She’s running for her daughter, Nora, who was diagnosed with epilepsy and takes medication to help her maintain the lifestyle of a typical 7-year-old.
“We are blessed by the likelihood that she will outgrow her seizures,” Cunningham told The Journal News. “That is not often true for many who are diagnosed later in life. (It’s) something I try to be grateful for and I am always mindful of the lasting impact this disorder can have on so many.”
After a few rough years, Nora is healthier than she’s ever been. She does well in school and plays sports with kids her age.
Now her mom is running a marathon to increase awareness about a brain disorder so many Americans don’t understand. Cunningham is part of a team of runners dedicated to raising money for the Epilepsy Foundation of Metropolitan New York. (If you’d like to donate, click here.)
It’s definitely a challenge to juggle marathon training, raising two daughters and a full-time job as a critical care physician at Columbia University Medical Center, but Cunningham makes it work. With less than three weeks left until the biggest race of her life, she’s ready for whatever the streets of Manhattan throw her way.
As for motivation on race day, Cunningham expects to see Nora cheering her on at the finish line in Central Park. She couldn’t ask for anything more.