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Rockville Centre woman runs marathon to support kids with cancer


Rockville Centre resident Loreen Lawrence raised more than $10,000 for the Katie McBride Foundation by running in the New York City Marathon this month. Lawrence completed her first marathon, motivated to enter the race less than two months ahead of the event in order to support an organization close to her heart.

“It was an amazing experience—one of the best days of my life,” Lawrence said, “even though I was so terrified, a part of me didn’t want to do it.”

Lawrence has several personal connections to the Katie McBride Foundation, an organization founded in 2010 that provides support to families of children with leukemia and other life-threatening conditions. Katie McBride died in 2008 at age 11 after losing the battle to leukemia. When an acquaintance asked her to run with Team Katie just eight weeks before the Nov. 3 marathon, Lawrence hesitated.

“I participate in local runs and have run half-marathons,” Lawrence said, noting that she also teaches yoga and coaches basketball, “but I did not feel ready to run a full marathon.”

However, a dinner out with the other team members a few nights later convinced her to go for it. With their support, she knew she could do it, and her fiancé, who did not enter the marathon, became her training partner. But the biggest motivator was the cause.

“I learned that it was much more than just about running,” she said.

Though challenging, she figured that being a part of the team was the best way to raise awareness about the foundation.

“I have seen first-hand the incredible work this organization does for families in need,” Lawrence said.

Each year, the Katie McBride Foundation selects three or four children to be one of Katie’s Kids, meaning they receive financial assistance. Lawrence has two close friends who have been Katie’s Kids: JoJo Caccamo, her best friend’s son, was a recipient last year; Aiden Schaefer, whose family regularly dines at her family’s restaurant, CJ’s Coffee Shop, was a Katie’s Kid two years ago.

“The Katie McBride Foundation has been able to provide families with ‘out of the box’ support, allowing these families to function day to day,” Lawrence said.

The foundation’s primary objective is to honor the memory of Katie McBride, while raising important funds to assist families in financial need, provide awareness of the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island and the family support services it provides, and support other local worthy causes. In addition to raising money through the marathon, the foundation holds two fundraisers: Katie’s Run, a 5K Walk/Run held in June and Katie’s Koncert, held the weekend after the marathon. Each of the four team members running the marathon had a goal of raising $5,000; Lawrence ended up raising $10,664, at least $7,000 of which was raised at CJ’s alone.

“Our customers are amazing and insanely generous,” Lawrence said.

Almost immediately after signing up to run, Lawrence began training. Between working at CJ’s, teaching yoga and coaching basketball, she works six days a week and found time to squeeze in her training each day, saving the long runs for her days off. While the training was difficult, she said she had a hard time at first asking for donations. Finally, a friend convinced her to get her bio on the website and also created a poster to hang on the wall of CJ’s to help track her progress. That helped immensely; and knowing how much her home community was supporting her also helped get her through all 26.2 miles.

“Running tested my mental, emotional and physical strength,” she said. “But all that support—the spectators on the route, my friends and family who came to cheer me on, my customers back home and the mission of the foundation—that’s what got me through.”

Just days after the marathon, she said she was feeling pretty good.

“I’m ready to do it again,” she said.