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Run for a Reason: Carrie and Steffany's Story

by Jordan Olander
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Many runners know that training with a partner can help you get through both the good and bad times. Carrie and Steffany have been “BRF” (best running friends) for over four years, and they have called running a bonding experience and outlet to get through the obstacles in their lives.

Carrie and Steffany have trained for countless races together through freezing winter nights and humid summer days. They look forward to their long runs, whether it's to catch each other up on the day or air their grievances. Even when they can’t find a time to run together, they text one other to see how their runs went. 

And when Steffany was training to beat her personal record in the half-marathon a few years ago, Carrie couldn’t let her friend run alone. She was there during the long runs in the summer heat, and most importantly, when Steffany crossed the finish line with her best half-marathon time ever.  Steffany knew she could always count on Carrie to be there for her, so Steffany didn’t hesitate to return the favor when Carrie needed to have open heart surgery to replace a pulmonary valve in 2016.

Carrie was born with pulmonary stenosis, a genetic narrowing of the pulmonary valve. Throughout her life, she has been a patient of the cardiology department at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Though Carrie had no issues from her defect for most of her life, she had to have surgery in March 2017 at Children’s Hospital at the age of 27. 

Because Carrie has been unable to train for and run a race since her surgery, Steffany decided to run for Team Children’s this year to honor her best running friend. She has always wanted to run for a reason, and now she has an incredibly meaningful reason. Steffany said, “Simply put, I’m running for Carrie. She has been the motivating factor for me for almost a year because I know how much she would love to be doing what I have the opportunity to do. I write her name on all of my bibs so she is doing this with me in a way. We are in it together.”

Even when Steffany went through her own personal struggles, she realized that she still had the ability to run. Knowing that and seeing her friend work hard to get back to her normal life after surgery was motivation enough to get Steffany out on her runs. It also helps that Steffany gets encouragement from the charity team at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation!

Steffany has already raised over $700 for the Foundation and is not stopping there. Together, Steffany and Carrie want to raise awareness of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and educate others about its available services. It’s not just a place for kids; it’s a place for adults to receive outstanding care, too.

Steffany and Carrie have helped each other through the highs and lows of life. Having a friend to lean on during the tough times is important, but having a friend celebrate your successes matters just as much. Thanks to the help of her surgery and cardiology teams, her determination and friends like Steffany, Carrie knows she will be able to run again. These two friends look forward to running together once again and celebrating when Carrie receives the green light to begin training for the 2019 race.

According to Carrie, “My 'ultimate' triumph is still yet to come… I can't wait to finally ‘defeat’ heart disease and run my first race back with a new heart valve! You could say that I'm a part of Team Children's in my everyday life, but being able to join them for running is going to be SO rewarding. Watch out 2019 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon - here I come!”

To check out Steffany’s fundraising page, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/childrenshospitalpitt2018/fundraiser/steffanyrubel.

For more information about the Run for a Reason Charity Program presented by Bank of America or to register as a charity runner, visit www.thepittsburghmarathon.com/charities.

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