Do you have a person in your life that you would do anything for? For some people it's a significant other, a parent, or teacher. For me, it is my 24 year old sister, Christina. I remember the day my parents told me that I was going to be a big sister. I was instantly obsessed with Christina. She became my best friend even before she was born.
Growing up, Christina and I were extremely close. We would never do something without the other sister being included. During the summer of her senior year of college, my family and I felt something was off with Christina's walking. We would just tease her that her one leg was longer than the other, however, after a huge fall, we knew it was something greater. The day we found out she was diagnosed with Friedrich's Ataxia, a life shortening neurological disease, I spent all night crying to my mother, "How will we get through this? How can I be strong for her? What can I do?"
Christina went back to school for her senior year at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI. I knew Christina was very depressed and felt extremely alone. To help raise her spirits, I went to curefa.org to see if there were any special events in Rhode Island for us to attend. I found the 3rd Annual Race for Matt & Grace, hosted by the Hopkins and DiIorio familes. We ended up raising over $2,200 for the race, and met some incredible people that day. I cannot describe enough the huge smile my sister had on her face. I knew from that day, I wanted to host a 5K of my own to help raise funds and awareness for the Friedrich's Ataxia Research Alliance, and to see Christina smile again surrounded by her family and friends.
Since I have always felt like a "mother hen" to Christina, I decided to host the 5K on Mother's Day in our beautiful hometown park in Bucks County at Tyler State Park. To say that I was a nervous wreck the first year is an understatement. I couldn't have pulled it off without the help of our wonderful local businesses, FARA rep Jamie Young, and our now second family, the DiIlorio's. To date, the Mother's Day 5K Race for Christina has raised over $44,000 towards research, benefitting those diagnosed with Friedrich's Ataxia.
The day of the race, I am constantly walking around and thanking people. Not only am I grateful that they participated and donated towards our family's cause, but I am more thankful for putting a smile on my sister's face. I would do anything for her and to see that ear to ear grin.
Save the date for our 4th Annual Mother's Day 5K Race for Christina next year on Sunday May 9, 2016. We hope you can be a part of this beautiful day!