This year, Danita Dmetrichuk of Alberta, Canada, and Leanne Bartz of Seattle, WA, marked Father’s Day in a very special way, by running the Seattle Half Marathon in June to raise money for the Parkinson’s Foundation in honor of their fathers.
Hear what drives these two Champions to run for Parkinson’s and get inspired to be a grassroots fundraiser for the Parkinson’s Foundation.
Q. What inspired you to run as a Parkinson’s Foundation Champion?
DD: My father, who lived with both Parkinson’s disease and Progressive supranuclear palsy, sadly passed away in January. My Dad shared my love of running. On family vacations, it was our traditions to take beach runs. I did this half marathon to help others like my Dad be able to take that run with their daughter.
Because this year marked the first Father’s Day without Dad, I wanted to do something special in his memory. I couldn’t think of a better way than to run a half marathon and bring awareness to Parkinson’s at the same time.
LB: My Dad was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s when he was in his mid-forties. Through this all, I’ve watched how my Dad gives back to those around him without thought. I realized it’s time I do the same. It’s always been my goal to run a half marathon. When I found out I could do it as a way to give back to the Parkinson’s Foundation, it all came together for something greater than myself!
Q. What do you hope to accomplish by running for Parkinson’s?
DD: The daily struggles I saw my Dad go through were so painful to watch, physically for him and emotionally for the rest of the family. We felt so helpless in stopping the pain and progression. By running for the Parkinson’s Foundation, I am hoping to assist in further research to find a cure to end Parkinson’s.
LB: The Parkinson’s Foundation has been a key part of our family’s life with its Parkinson’s pioneers and so much research in the field, so I hope to advance their efforts for the millions of others impacted by the disease.
Q. Is this your first endurance race of this magnitude? Do you have any advice for others thinking about running as a Champion?
DD: Yes, it was my ultimate goal to complete my first half marathon before I turn 40. I have participated in several relay races, but have never ran this distance before. My best advice is to of course share your efforts with your family and friends. Mine have been so supportive and some think I am a little crazy to take on this distance.
LB: Running 13.1 miles is not a ‘normal’ thing for me. While I was terrified to some degree, everyone’s support somehow made it seem so much less daunting. My advice for new Champions is two words: social media. Not only did it help me raise the funds, it provided me with support, training advice and planning. The training was the part that was most intimidating about this whole thing, but I calmed down quite a bit after reading a daily article from a runner’s magazine I follow. If you have a cause and a passion, you’ll find that people who care about you, are also eager to help. That, plus the great resources the Parkinson’s Foundation provides, makes it pretty smooth sailing.
Danita Dmetrichuk, 37, is a government employee and mother of three living in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada. Leanne Bartz, 27, is a high school art teacher, administrator and volleyball coach living in Seattle, WA.