Friday, February 23, 2001

'Hero' inspires runner

Marathoners raise money for research

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

        HAMILTON — On days when Connie Ehrnschwender doesn't feel like training for the Flying Pig Marathon, she spurs herself on by thinking of Joel Stettler.

        Joel, a Badin High School sophomore, has recovered from leukemia. To help young people like him, Ms. Ehrnschwender's run will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

        “He's my hero,” Ms. Ehrnschwender said. “Each of us running for the Leukemia Society is supposed to have a hero to keep us going. Some people are assigned heroes, but since I know Joel, I chose him.”

        The two attend Queen of Peace Church in Millville and have known each other since Joel was a student at Queen of Peace School, where Ms. Ehrnschwender is a musician and teacher's aide.

        “I was diagnosed with leukemia when I was in third grade,” Joel said. “We've been really close, and she's real upbeat, real athletic. She tries to help everyone.”

        Although Joel is technically cured of the disease because his cancer has been in remission for more than five years, the memories are still fresh.

        “I was in treatment at Children's Hospital for two years and three months,” the Hamilton resident said. “I would stay there two to three weeks at a time. Having survived makes me aware of the importance of life, that you need to live out every day.”

        The teen's ordeal was especially poignant for Ms. Ehrnschwender because one of her children was his classmate. She'd like to help the Leukemia Society provide bright futures for other kids, too.

        So she's a member of “Team in Training,” the society's athletic fund-raisers. Individuals can participate in bike races or runs, committing to raising a specified amount of money for each event.

        The price tag for those participating in the Flying Pig Marathon is $1,000, most of which goes directly to research. More than 400 Cincinnati-area Team in Training members will join the run May 6, Ms. Ehrnschwender said.

        “I've solicited all my donations from the parish and have raised over $2,000 so far, and they're still coming in,” she said.

       Anyone interested in supporting Ms. Ehrnschwender or another member of Team in Training can contact the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's office at 361-2100.



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