Marathon training a challenge to body, mind


WOODBRIDGE — For 30-year-old Lori Wyble, running a marathon was a personal goal, which evolved into so much more.

On Oct. 19, Wyble, along with her friend, Danielle LaBianco, 30, of Hasbrouck Heights, will run their first marathon at the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). The two will run on behalf of the society’s northern New Jersey chapter Team in Training, which is in its 20th year. It is the world’s largest endurance sports training program.

The White Plains, N.Y.-based society, according to its Web site, is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services. It was founded in 1949 and has 68 chapters in the United States and Canada. Its mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

“It brings me chills just thinking about the cancer survivors and patients who are going to cheer us on,” she said.

Wyble, who is currently raising funds, received donations totaling $225 from the YMCA’s Fund for Tomorrow, Mayor John E. McCormac’s charity fund McCormac Community Charity Fund Inc., and from Councilman Gregg Ficarra.

The councilman joined Helene Zahn, development director for the Edison, Metuchen and Woodbridge YMCAs; Kim Affeldt, Woodbridge YMCA’s wellness director; and Nancy Drum, marketing and membership director, at the Woodbridge YMCA on July 22 to present Wyble with the donations.

The Fund for Tomorrow was created over a decade ago by the trustees of the Metuchen, Edison and Woodbridge YMCA to ensure that YMCA families facing a difficulty such as an illness or death in the family would be able to continue to access vital YMCA programs like child care.

Affeldt said when members of the YMCA heard about Wyble’s quest, they embraced it. Ficarra, who is head of the township’s wellness campaign, added that Wyble could become the township’s new poster child on wellness.

Wyble, a registered dietitian, admitted that at first she was hesitant about running the marathon.

“I knew it would be such a time commitment … but when Danielle, who is an athletic trainer at Elmwood Park Memorial High School, told me about one of her students who was diagnosed with cancer, it really inspired me,” she said.

Wyble said since she started her quest, interesting things have started to happen, making her more aware of the cause she is fighting for.

“I shared my participation in the event with my uncle, who is fighting cancer, because I wanted him to know that I was going to do my part to honor him and his life,” she said.

Wyble learned for the first time from her aunt that her grandmother had passed away not only from complications of surgery, but also from leukemia.

“I was shocked to learn about my grandmother, but believe she has been with me every step of the way,” she said. “It is a nice way to remember a loved one who passed away so many years ago.”

Wyble also was touched by a newspaper article she read about Kevin Campanale, a Hillsborough High School champion wrestler and leukemia survivor.

“I never read The Star-Ledger, but it just so happened that on the day of a family barbecue, July 6th, the paper was lying in such a way that prompted me to read it,” she said.

It turned out that Wyble’s sister is a teacher at Hillsborough High School and she knows Campanale’s wrestling coach.

“I just felt that was a sign. … I was amazed on how small this world is and how there are connections between all of us,” she said. “I was so touched by Kevin’s story of bravery and perseverance. I believe that these connections tie us all together and it is our responsibility to walk beside one another through life.”

Wyble said the training has been great and the fundraising has been challenging.

“During the week, we run on our own, and on the weekend, we travel to places to run together,” she said. “There are coaches with us giving us tips.”

This past weekend, Wyble and her friend, Danielle, hit the 10-mile mark.

“I’m a former athlete, having played soccer, basketball and softball, but never track,” she said. “The most I have run is five miles, and hitting that six-mile mark was an accomplishment in itself.”

Wyble said she knows this will be a lifealtering experience for her when she crosses the finish line.

“This is more than an athletic accomplishment,” she said.

The society’s Team in Training program started, according to the society’s press release, with a group of athletes from the New York area who hired a coach and trained for the New City Marathon while they raised money for blood cancer research. The inspiration for their endeavor was leukemia survivor Georgia Cleland, daughter of the concept’s organizer, Bruce Cleland, according to the LLS Web site.

Since the first team crossed the finish line, more than 340,000 participants have raised more than $800 million for blood cancer research and patient services. The society’s goal is to reach the billion-dollar mark. The program today trains approximately 39,000 people a year to participate in marathons, half marathons, triathlons and 100-mile cycling events.

Over the last 20 years, the funds have contributed to advances in blood cancer treatments, including the drug Gleevec, for the treatment of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The society’s research funding has also led to breakthroughs in less toxic chemotherapy and stem-cell transplantation, according to the LLS.

The funds also allowed the society to provide critical education and support services to patients and their families.

The theme throughout the 20th anniversary is Purple Power, in recognition of the signature purple jerseys that all participants wear during their events.

For more information about blood cancer, visit or call the society’s information resource center at 800-955- 4572.

The northern New Jersey team is hosting a pancake breakfast, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Aug. 9, at the Good Shepherd Church, 233 S. Highwood Ave., Glen Rock. All funds will benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Adult tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Tickets for children age 13 and under are $5 in advance and $6 at the door. There is no charge for children under age 2. For tickets, call Andrea at 201-447-1264.