MEET DIANE SWEET
As Wake Up Narcolepsy and our Team WUNners continue to set our sights on Boston for our eighth consecutive Boston Marathon, we are especially grateful for the commitment of our team members. They spend countless hours training and run many miles to prepare for this prestigious athletic event. They also work tirelessly to raise awareness about narcolepsy and raise funds for narcolepsy research by reaching out to their family, friends and colleagues.
This week’s Team WUNners “Runner Spotlight” features Diane Sweet. All of our runners’ stories are powerful and inspirational, although Diane’s story is a bit different as she has no personal connection to narcolepsy. However, as a mom of a son who faced his own medical journey and through the loss of her father during her training, Diane has continued to push forward on behalf of Wake Up Narcolepsy and the narcolepsy community. Diane’s enthusiasm for promoting the mission of Wake Up Narcolepsy and raising funds for narcolepsy research is truly contagious, and we are so lucky to have her on board.
I am honored to be chosen as a member of the 2017 Wake Up Narcolepsy Boston Marathon Team. Each time I share this exciting news with someone I typically get one of two questions in response. The first being, “If you are on a team does that mean you have to run the whole thing?” Yes – all 26.2 miles! That question is usually followed up with, “Why on earth would you want to do this?” This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. I am a recreational runner, which is a nice way of saying I am too slow to qualify for Boston. I applied for a charity team three years ago and I was denied.
When I heard about this opportunity through Laura Fabrizio, Chair of the Board for Wake Up Narcolepsy, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Laura is my neighbor during the week. Her son developed narcolepsy and cataplexy in 2009. She travels over two hours from her hometown on the West side of Michigan to live with her son on the East side of the state during the week so that he can attend a school that can meet his needs. While I don’t have a personal connection to narcolepsy, as the mom of a child with his own medical journey with P.A.N.D.A.S. (Pediatric Autoimmune and Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Strep), I can certainly empathize with the families affected by narcolepsy. We faced similar challenges with the sudden onset of P.A.N.D.A.S., finding a diagnosis and seeking out the right treatment for him. I was so moved by Laura’s story and the countless others I’ve learned about. I feel blessed that my son’s daily challenges are nothing like what so many affected by narcolepsy must live with every day.
While this opportunity is a dream come true for me, it hasn’t been without obstacles. I accepted a place on the team at the end of November and about a week later, on December 7th I received my very first donation from my mom and dad. Just a couple of hours later, I received an unexpected call from my mom letting me know that my father had been rushed to the hospital by ambulance and likely suffered an aortic dissection. He was gone just an hour and a half later. My heart was broken. I struggled to make time to run or continue my fundraising efforts until after the holidays when I began to panic. I committed to raising a lot of money for this worthy cause and I have a ton of miles to run. My father was a faithful friend and devoted volunteer who showed me time and time again how important it is to give to others. He was so very proud of my running accomplishments and even more proud that with this race I would be helping others in the process. I hope to begin to honor him by completing my fundraising while raising awareness for narcolepsy and running the Boston Marathon. My friends and family have been incredibly supportive. I have fantastic running friends who keep me company during my long training runs. And in less than a month, I have raised more than half of the $7,500 fundraising requirement.
I set a goal to exceed that requirement and raise $10,000. My hope is that by raising awareness and research funding for narcolepsy, I will inspire others to do the same. Whether it means giving your time or making a donation. Thank you for your generosity and support during this unbelievable journey. I look forward to crossing the finish line while honoring those affected by narcolepsy.
Since 2010, our Boston Marathon Team WUNners has raised more that $400,000 for narcolepsy research. To donate to Diane’s Boston Marathon Wake Up Narcolepsy fundraising campaign, please click HERE.
Wake Up Narcolepsy is dedicated to supporting narcolepsy awareness and research to find a cure. To learn more about Wake Up Narcolepsy, please visit our website HERE.