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Running to help find a cure

By Jeff Kiessel, Ludington Daily News

1549 days ago   Article ID# 1522879
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Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

LUDINGTON, MICHIGAN (Ludington Daily News) - Chelsea Lehrbass recently lost the love of her life, Brandon McVicker, to leukemia.

Her long-time boyfriend was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in early September and died of the aggressive cancer a little less than two months later. He was 23.

Lehrbass didn’t know a lot about the disease that took the life of her best friend, but in research and getting involved in fundraising efforts since his death, she is trying to do her part to help find a cure.

“It is really important for me to be able to give something back to finding a cure,” she said.

Lehrbass, 21 of Custer, is combining her passion for running with her goal of helping to find a cure by joining the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training.

The group offers endurance sports training programs for walking or running marathons and half-marathons, triathlons and century (100-mile) bike rides in honor of blood cancer patients and survivors.

Her goal is to run her first endurance half-marathon and raise at least $3,000 for research.

She joined the Kensington Team in Training Group from Kensington, Michigan, and was given a running coach and a training program to prepare for the Country Music Half Marathon on April 28 in Nashville, Tennessee.

She has always been active, and running has been a big part of her life. She ran on her high school track team at Mason County Eastern.

“Brandon didn’t like to run, but he would ride his bike alongside of me when I ran,” Chelsea said.

Lehrbass has been training at night with her cousin Kristy (Lehrbass) Hill. The two even ran in the St. Patrick’s Day Irish Jig 5K race, a in downtown Ludington to get in a little extra workout.

Her training recently has included two long runs a week, 10 miles, and short runs, two to five miles.

Although she hasn’t been training for very long, she has worked her way up in mileage and feels confident that she will have no trouble finishing the 13.1-mile race.

“Running has been very therapeutic,” she said. “It gives me a purpose.”

“We are all very proud of her,” said Bobbi McVicker, Brandon’s mother.

Lehrbass has been a part of the McVicker family for more than six years and Chelsea and Bobbi have grown very close. In fact Bobbi will be going to Nashville to offer support.

“I want to be at the finish line because I am so proud of her,” Bobbi McVicker said.

“Brandon was a hero in many ways and he touched the lives of countless people. He loyally served on two of his local fire departments and was captain of the Branch Fire Department,” Lehrbass said. “This marathon and fundraising opportunity is part of my attempt to follow his example of leadership and compassion.

Although I am sad he is not with me, I am lucky to have had so much time with him while he was here. The realization that someone so amazing can be taken from this world so easily motivates me to help prevent it from happening to others.”

Chelsea said running for a cause has been a really big part of her grieving process, to be able to spend time with the McVicker family and do something in Brandon’s memory.

From Chelsea

Before Brandon was diagnosed I knew very little about leukemia. Here are a few interesting statistics I want to share with you:

Every nine minutes a child or adult in the U.S. dies from leukemia or other blood cancers.

Leukemia is the leading disease killer of children.

Leukemia strikes 10 times more adults than children.

Leukemia is the leading fatal malignant disease in men and women under the age of 35.

To donate

You can contribute by mailing a check payable to: The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Visit pages.teamintraining.org/mi/cmc12/clehrbass to donate online.

“I know that you are probably asked to give to numerous charities, but I am urging you to contribute to this charity this year. Any amount, big or small, will be greatly appreciated,” Chelsea Lehrbass said. “A gift of $100 can: Fund a society researcher for a day, provide a child with a one month supply of medication and test one or two individuals as potential bone marrow donors.”

Copyright 2016 Ludington Daily News   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 1549 days ago   Article ID# 1522879

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