Runner sets sights on first full marathon


Running a full marathon has been a lifelong goal for Valley Stream resident Doreen Grace, and next month she will fulfill her mission while also raising money for a good cause.

On Jan. 12, Grace will take part in the Walt Disney World full marathon. The 26.2 mile race winds through every Disney park and many of the characters will be out cheering on the runners. In 2011, Grace ran the half-marathon at Disney, and also completed the Long Island half marathon a year before that.

“This is on my bucket list,” she said of the full marathon. “I’ve got to cross it off. I figured if I had to run 26 miles, I’d like to do it in Disney.”

Grace is running to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She is taking part in the race through the society’s Team in Training organization, and has been practicing for the race since August. Every Saturday, she and other team members meet at a trail in Massapequa to run, and she also practices regularly during the week at Hendrickson Park.

She is running in honor of Chris Schroeder, who died in June near the end of his senior year at Valley Stream South High School. Schroeder battled leukemia for two years.

Though Grace said she didn’t know Schroeder beyond meeting him a few times, her husband, Billy, and Schroeder’s father, Wally, are in the Valley Stream Fire Department together. Schroeder was a member of the Junior Fire Department and was sworn in as a firefighter eight days before his death.

In the past, Grace completed a Team in Training event for Vinny Ruggiero, who battled chronic lymphocytic leukemia for six years before he died in April 2010.

Grace, 33, said her first experience with racing was when she attended the New York City Marathon when she was 8. “I remember thinking, ‘I want to do that someday,’” she said.

Although she didn’t run in high school or college — she played volleyball — Grace picked up running in 2005 and has been building up to completing a full marathon ever since.

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