WORCESTER, Mass., April 15, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With the 26.2 miles of 118th Boston Marathon looming before them on April 21, 14 dedicated WUNners from across the U.S. and Canada are in their final few days of training. The WUNners are racing to benefit Wake Up Narcolepsy (WUN) www.wakeupnarcolepsy.org, a nonprofit organization working to speed narcolepsy diagnosis and treatment, and fund medical research to find a cure. Narcolepsy is a devastating lifelong, neurological sleep disorder affecting 200,000 Americans and millions of people worldwide.
Dave Gow, of Worcester, who co-founded WUN in 2008, is running his second Boston Marathon in support of Thomas, his 16-year-old son who has narcolepsy. Halted by race officials a mile from the finish line, along with thousands of other runners in last year's tragic race, Dave renewed his commitment to finish this year's race for people with narcolepsy (PWN) everywhere.
"Hockey, not long-distance running is my first sport, so training for and running a marathon is a stretch for me," he said. "But I'd do anything for my children. Everyday I watch Thomas struggle to overcome his narcolepsy. Running a marathon pales in comparison to the challenges he faces living with this invisible disease. If my efforts help kids like Thomas lead more normal lives, it's all worth it." In the 2013 race, Dave was among the top 20 fundraisers of all Marathon runners, bringing in over $38,000 to benefit WUN's work.
To date, WUN has raised about 70% of its fundraising goal of $100,000 for the 2014 Marathon. All proceeds will support researchers in the U.S. and Canada working diligently to find a cure for narcolepsy. Donations can be made at http://www.crowdrise.com/wunners2014bostonmarathon.
International Team of Veteran and First-time Marathoners
Joining Dave are 13 other WUNners from as far away as Ontario, Arizona, Colorado, Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, and New England. They include seasoned marathoners like Marylou Blakely (Bisbee, AZ), Jared Chrudimsky (Worcester), Justin Ferguson (Newmarket, ON), Shelby Harris (New York), Cherie Johnson (Oro Valley, AZ), Jennifer Morin (Ottawa), Dan Rech (Arlington, MA), Jacqueline Sager (Boston/Chicago) Stephen Smith (Atlanta), and Alysia Steinmann (New York).
Running their first marathons are Lalita Bumpen (West Hartford, CT) Ernie Freedman (Denver), and Katie Goode (Tewksbury, MA).
Thankfully, none of the nine WUNners who started the 2013 race was injured from the terrorist bombs near the finish line, which claimed three lives and injured hundreds. One of them, however – Jacqueline Sager – witnessed both blasts as she sprinted toward the finish line. Thrown into shock, she required help from first responders before leaving the scene under her own power. She is among those featured in If Not for the Perfect Stranger, which chronicles stories from that horrific day.
"This year will be a very special race for runners, spectators, fundraisers, and the city of Boston itself," Jacqueline said. "Supporting a WUNner means so much to PWN and is an integral part of what the Marathon is all about."
Narcolepsy is an autoimmune sleep disorder affecting 1 in 2,000 people. Sadly, narcolepsy is severely under-recognized and misdiagnosed. It is not uncommon for 10 years to pass between initial onset and proper diagnosis. It most often presents itself in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood, and lasts a lifetime. Narcolepsy's effect on quality of life compares to Parkinson's disease and epilepsy. Though medications help, there is currently no cure. Even with proper medical treatment, life with narcolepsy is never normal.
SOURCE Wake Up Narcolepsy