Novi resident and avid runner Dan Pierce always wanted to run a marathon. But it wasn't until he considered the idea of running to raise money for leukemia, which claimed the life of his grandfather, that he was able to make it happen.
In May 2010, Pierce crossed the finish line of the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, having raised $2,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
“It’s a lot of mental, but the reward is immeasurable,” he said. “If running is going to help find a cure, you run as hard as you can.”
He's now training to run the same marathon in 2012 to help find the cure.
Running as a team
Pierce was able to achieve his goal by joining Team in Training, a sports training program that benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
After seeing a flier for Team in Training at , he decided to attend an informational meeting and was immediately hooked by the emotional stories of the people who were affected by blood cancers.
Despite his busy schedule doing public relations for Ford, Pierce began training for the marathon, gradually increasing his miles and meeting with other Team in Training members at Kensington Metropark on Saturdays to do longer runs.
To run in the marathon, Team in Training asked the participants to raise $1,500 to help find the cure. Pierce decided that he didn’t want to knock on any doors or ask people at his office, but instead asked for donations on Facebook, where he also updated people on his training. He ended up raising $500 above his goal.
“You never the know the connection people have to really anything or anyone, and I received donations from friends who were impacted by leukemia or lymphoma, whether it was themselves and I never knew, or that they were dealing with a parent or had lost a parent. It was incredible to see and at the same time sad to see how this has impacted so many people,” he said.
The night before his marathon in May 2010, Pierce once again posted to the people following his journey on Facebook. He asked for people to share the names of anyone they knew affected by leukemia and lymphoma and promised he would write their names on the back of the shirt he was wearing in the marathon.
“It was emotional to see. I had to write really small, which again was sad,” he said.
Pierce then took a photo of the shirt and shared in on Facebook, saying he would be running in their honor.
“Every time I run, you think about the names on the back of the shirt, and not just my grandfather…They’re always with you,” he said.
Leukemia and lymphoma, Pierce said, is something that affects everyone from star baseball players to children.
“When you cross that finish line, you know you’re not running for yourself anymore,” he said.
From participant to mentor
Pierce never thought he would want to run more than one marathon, but this year he is once again training for the Cincinnati marathon in May and is also serving as a mentor to other members of Team in Training.
“After I finished my marathon, there was a wave of emotion. I was sore the week after, so I didn’t miss running that week, but the week after that, you kind of have this reflection of what you accomplished. And the endorphins that you get and the encouragement that you get draws you back to TNT,” he said.
Now he mentors runners who train in Ann Arbor and at Kensington. He checks in with them weekly, sending them emails of inspirational thoughts and creative fundraising ideas. He also makes sure they are getting all their miles in.
Pierce said he will continue to be involved in Team in Training, and will encourage others to join.
“Don’t believe that you can’t be the runner or the walker who raises the money, and don’t let the fundraising that scares you from participating," he said.
"Because in the end you go on a journey that is as much about finding yourself as it is about battling a blood cancer. So in the end, there’s so many winners out of the fact that you just have the courage to run.”