To celebrate her 40th birthday, Melinda Nethery of Victoria, Texas, resolved to run her first marathon and make her first visit to New York.
In doing so, the birthday milestone also marked the first time she raised funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Nethery wanted to run a half marathon, but she learned the New York City Marathon doesn't offer that as a distance option. She began researching half marathons in other cities when her friend, Angela Valentine, who had run one prior marathon, declared she would join Nethery in running the full New York City Marathon.
“I’m so grateful to Angela for even offering to do that with me,” Nethery said. “You cannot put a value on that gift for a 40th birthday. What a great friend.”
Nethery and Valentine then had a new problem: They couldn’t register for the November 1 race unless they had completed a qualifying race. Their only hope was through a registration lottery or by raising funds for a charity. They entered the lottery, agreeing that if only one or neither were selected, they would team up to fundraise for St. Jude. Nethery was selected in the lottery, but Valentine wasn’t.
Nethery was familiar with St. Jude because, several years ago, a family friend died from breast cancer, and asked for donations to St. Jude in her memory, in lieu of flowers.
When preparing to fundraise, both Nethery (below, left) and Valentine researched the hospital on stjude.org and were “blown away” by the childhood cancer survival statistics they found there, such as that treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent since it opened in 1962.
I think fundraising makes it more rewarding when you are running a marathon, because you are running with purpose.
Valentine signed up to be a St. Jude Hero, and the pair raised $4,526 for St. Jude — surpassing their goal by more than $1,000.
“The overall experience felt great,” said Valentine, about helping others through their marathon run. “We never realized the positive impact it would have on us.”
“I think fundraising makes it more rewarding when you are running a marathon, because you are running with purpose,” Nethery said.