Short version – I am running the Chicago Marathon in honor of Ken Lempa, my dad. He was a runner and a victim of ALS. Please support my efforts to find a cure for ALS. Donation may be made online ( or by contacting me (8 lempa 8 (at) gmail . com). )
I ran my first official race this past Thanksgiving (2013). It was a fun Pi-K (3.14 miles. . .get it?) that involved a lot of pie. It was also two weeks before my 33 birthday. . .and my Dad’s passing. It was very important for me to run this race for two reasons. First I wanted to make sure that my Dad – a runner up until he could no longer stand on his own – would be able to hear about my first race. The second reason had to do with a memory. The first race that I ever saw my Dad run was a Turkey Trot. I remember that he gave me the sweatshirt from the run. A sweatshirt that I proudly wore for years.
Dad’s two year battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig‘s Disease) ultimately took his life and led to emotional distress for those he knew, but he always made it a point to encourage me. This was especially true when it came to my then new found love of running. He was one of the only people that didn’t laugh when I told him that my ultimate goal was to run a 100 mile ultra-marathon. In fact, his response was to tell me to get a good pair of shoes and drink a lot of water. I now run in top notch running shoes and carry at least 20 ounces of water on every run.
Shortly after Dad died I joined a half marathon training program. I knew that this would help clear my mind and keep me physically active. It worked so well that I then signed up for a marathon training program. Of course if you are in a marathon training program you also need to sign-up for a marathon. It was around this time that I was approached by my good friends at the Chicago ALS Association about joining Team ALS’s Chicago Marathon team. I thought about it for a few days and eventually decided that there was no better way to honor my Dad than to run a marathon in his hometown while fighting to cure the disease that killed him.
A friend recently asked me how I dealt with the pain inflicted on my family by this terrible disease. I told her that I still try to look for the positive aspect of even the most negative situation. I don’t think my Dad would want us to be sad. I think he would want us to enjoy life and do what we can to make the world a better place. Please join me as I support the ALS Association and every individual who has been touched by this awful disease.