SUTLIFF– When Sarah Brannaman of Sutliff competes in her first-ever marathon this summer, it will have special meaning.
Brannaman, 42, has survived multiple occurrences of cancer, and her run this summer is part of the Million Dollar Marathon Coast to Coast for Cancer event.
The run is presented by the Above and Beyond Cancer charity.
Brannaman is part of a team led by Kortney Moel of Lisbon. The two work together at ACT in Iowa City.
“This will be my first marathon, and I plan on taking every step of the 26.2 miles,” Brannaman said. “I did a Susan G. Komen walk in 2008 (walking 60 miles in three days), and it was the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. I would love to have a world free of cancer. It will be very trying to do all 26.2 miles.”
She credits Moel, along with other friends and family members with being behind her.
Each participant runs a leg of the event, which starts in the state of Washington on June 20 and ends on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean in Delaware in July. The run is expected to take about five weeks. The leg Moel’s team is running is between Grinnell and Iowa City. A baton is passed from leg to leg of the event’s route.
“We want as many friends and family out there as can,” Moel, 30, said, adding that a bus is being organized to get local people to the route, where they can either watch or participate for as long as desired.
Each official runner is expected to raise $7,500 for Above and Beyond Cancer. Both Moel and Brannaman are taking donations and working on several upcoming fund-raising events, including an Arctic Plunge in Solon April 20 (see sidebar).
The event is organized by Iowa native Steve Cannon, who is known for his 1,037-mile run around Lake Michigan to raise money for cancer research, as well as at 24-hour run around Grays Lake in Des Moines.
Moel was inspired by Cannon to participate.
“I started following Steve Cannon’s story when he did 40 marathons in 40 days,” she said, adding that while she has not personally dealt with cancer, she has known others who have. She said she is running for her girls, ages 14, 3, and 1, and also for a young girl named Kate, whose journey through cancer she has followed.
For Brannaman, cancer has hit home.
Her mother lost her cancer fight at age 50 in 1981. In 1999, Brannaman herself dealt with breast cancer. She later suffered a recurrence of breast cancer and was diagnosed as being at high risk for yet another recurrence of cancer, resulting in a full hysterectomy.
“I am taking on this journey in hopes that one day no one will have to hear the words ‘you have cancer,’” she said. “I feel I’ve survived cancer because of my positive attitude and because of the many breakthroughs in cancer research funded by organizations such as Above and Beyond Cancer.”
Moel has run four half-marathons and ran her first marathon last September. She said she wouldn’t do a marathon again unless it were for an awesome cause, and she said the upcoming event fits that description
“Cancer SUXX is the motto I have placed on my Coast-to-Coast Million Dollar Marathon designed shoes,” she said.
The organization intends to use the event as a way to educate the public about connections between cancer, diet and exercise as well as to raise money for cancer research and support.
For more information about the coast to coast run, see www.coasttocoastforcancer.org .
To make a donation, visit: www.crowdrise.com/runkortneyrun  or www.crowdrise.com/sarahbrannaman .
Brannaman has also set up a webpage, cancersuxx.weebly.com/ so people can follow her activities easily.