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Run for a Reason: Steph's Story

by Jordan Olander
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Completing a full marathon is no easy task -- just ask charity runner Steph Witek. 

Steph initially did not like running. Two years before she ran her first full marathon, however, she woke up one morning and decided to go for a run. And she has been at it ever since. Running was a personal goal at first because completing a marathon is a huge accomplishment, but Steph later realized she could do more than just accomplish something for herself. 

Steph did some research and found the Run For A Reason Charity Program presented by Bank of America. She decided to run for the Emily Whitehead Foundation, a non-profit that raises money for pediatric cancer research. It was important to Steph to make a difference in some way, particularly in the fight to end cancer. She was proud to have raised $1,200 for the Foundation last year!

Steph documented some of her training through a series of videos on her YouTube channel. In the videos, she was honest in saying that sometimes she did not feel like getting out of bed in the early mornings to run outside in the freezing cold. Still, she pushed herself knowing that children with cancer are constantly fighting and they do not have the choice to give up. She thought that if children were able to fight cancer, she was able to run a marathon.

Steph’s final video was a recap of her race weekend experience, which includes her mid-race thoughts and reactions to the marathon. She shared she had some struggles towards the end of the race, but there was something that kept her going - the thought that she was running for a cause bigger than herself. It didn’t hurt having messages like “YOU CAN” and “LRL” (left right left) on her hand to look down at while running either.

Steph carried this mentality of “YOU CAN” far beyond running a marathon. It was a sentiment she wanted to inspire in anyone watching her videos. Whether they wanted to do something that scared them or if someone told them they can’t do something, Steph was determined to let them know they can do anything.

This positive outlook and hard work pushed Steph to accomplish what she thought she couldn’t do. She even went above and beyond crushing her own personal goals, choosing to use her marathon journey to also raise money for a cause. That is what running for a reason is all about -- inspiring, pushing and helping not only yourself, but others.

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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