March 14, 2012 - Leah McLean faces a long road in her efforts to help cancer patients – 26.2 miles through Boston, Mass.
(click for larger version)
"I'm running the Boston Marathon on April 16," said McLean. "I'm running it as a charity runner, meaning that I have to raise money for a given charity in order to gain entry into the race."
She applied to The Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge last September, and was selected for the team.
"I'm honored to be a part of the team," she said. "I wanted to have an impact on something. They do very good work. It's a great program."
Boston Marathon is iconic, she said.
"The energy is amazing – people line the streets the whole way," she said. "They close Boston for the marathon."
The charity also reflects her work as an oncology social worker with Swan for Life Cancer Foundation in Independence Township.
"I meet many courageous people battling cancer," she said. "They share their story and I do my small part to help make their journey less scary by offering them support and resources along the way. This marathon is my chance to continue to make a difference, on a larger scale."
Her goal is to raise $6,000 for Dana-Farber.
"I have had tremendous support from my family and friends, already raising close to $2,800," she said. "My professional passion is working with cancer patients and families, making a positive impact on their cancer journey. My personal interest is running. This is an opportunity for me to pair the two."
This is her second marathon, after running in the Bay Shore Marathon in Traverse City last year.
"My husband is a huge runner. He competes in marathons, Iron Man triathlons – he's a huge inspiration," she said. "This is to teach my children to live out their dreams, small and big, and to aspire to achieve them."
She didn't always love running, though.
"I viewed it as good exercise, but I've had a conversion," she said. "Now I love it. I love the peace. It's kind of a form of meditation for me, a time to process my thoughts, and I feel good after."
She runs at least three times a week, including a long, 15-20 mile run from her home in Springfield Township through downtown Clarkston.
"I try to run the hills around Deer Lake – Boston is a hilly course," she said.
She also cycles 2-3 times a week to give her body a break while still working the legs and heart.
"It's a type of cross training," she said.
She has lived in Springfield Township for 13 years with her husband, Steve McLean, and their children Sam, Emma, Lily, and Elijah.
"My husband and I thought Clarkston was a great place to raise a family," she said. "We love the community."
For more information, visit www.runDFMC.org/2012/leahm.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.