November 22, 1999
Lora Cook, of Kenmore, has never been a runner. She's always been a steady, almost daily, walker, enjoying the activity for its physical exercise and stress-relieving benefits.
She has, however, entertained thoughts about what it would be like to run a marathon, but these thoughts were always in the far reaches of her mind and never close to becoming reality.
"I've always dreamed of completing a marathon," says Cook, "and whenever I'd hear a story about someone who did one for the first time, I'd be inspired, but never to the point of taking action."
Enter Team In Training, a program that benefits the Leukemia Society of America, where participants run a marathon in honor of local leukemia patients.
Cook saw a flyer promoting the program and the upcoming Maui Marathon on March 19, 2000, and knew she'd found her inspiration. She will be running in honor of patient hero Kathleen Summers, a thirty-one year old Woodinville woman with Chronic Myelongenous Leukemia.
Summers is a wife and mother of two boys, was diagnosed in 1997 with the disease, and underwent a bone marrow transplant in 1998.
"Kathleen is my inspiration," states Cook, "and when I feel like giving up, all I have to do is think about what she has gone through. My challenge is nothing in comparison to hers."
Team In Training members raise funds for the Leukemia Society of America. The Society's mission is to advance the treatment and find a cure for leukemia and its related cancers.
Cook's goal is to raise $3,500 in donations by January 7th to further such research and discovery. She will be joining over 300 others from the Washington-Alaska chapter, as well as others from around the country for this event. Program members are predicted to raise over $60 million in this fiscal year. Eighty percent of the revenue directly helps patients and funds research, public and professional education, and community service. Team In Training participants receive a five-month comprehensive training program suited to meet their individual needs.
Local coaches Alysun Deckert, John Hill, and John Slee provide individualized training schedules and give informational clinics about nutrition, injury prevention, strength, conditioning, and stretching and race strategy. The program also includes group training runs and opportunities for members to meet one another, as well as their patient heroes.
"I've yet to meet Kathleen," says Cook, "but I'm really looking forward to it. We actually have a mutual friend, so I've heard a lot about her. I think we have some things in common because we're both mothers of young children living in the same area."
Cook has four children, ages two through ten, and does part-time daycare in her home. She finds time to run five times a week by getting up at five in the morning and taking to the streets around her neighborhood, rain or shine.
"It's definitely a challenge to run in the dark and the rain," comments Cook, "and there are times when I just don't want to do it, but all I have to do is look down at the hospital band around my wrist with Kathleen's name on it, and I keep going."
Cook has raised about a thousand dollars currently and has plans to raise more by setting up a Santa photo stand in the area, with all proceeds going to the Leukemia Society. The public can support Lora Cook in her efforts by sending a tax-deductible donation to the Leukemia Society of America; c/o Lora Cook; 2030 Westlake Avenue; Seattle, WA 98121. For information on Team In Training and future marathon programs, call 206-628-0777.