I am running a half marathon to help raise money and awareness for the Rally Foundation for childhood cancer research.

This past November, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with members of the Rally Foundation team here in Atlanta. My coworkers and I were invited to attend a presentation by the Rally Foundation at work. They opened by showing an inspiring video about an 11th grade student named Madeline. The pictures showed a happy, talented, and active girl enjoying the many wonderful opportunities that childhood often brings us.

Madeline was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) in January of 2009, 4 days before her 14th birthday. My "problems" with stress, work, and life all paled in comparison to the challenges that Madeline has faced and continues to face in her life, and it made me feel not only lucky but extremely grateful for my health, my family, and my happiness.

Hearing Madeline's story has had a lasting impact on the way I think about childhood cancer. As I learned about Madeline and her family's courage, it inspired me to not only learn more but to DO more. Madeline's story made me think about what I would do if I or any of my loved ones were ever diagnosed with cancer.

At that moment it was clear to me that simply being aware of childhood cancer was not enough. What would my options be if I were in Madeline's shoes? At the same time, how would I react if I were a family member or a loved one? I could only hope that the research funding and medical technology exists to begin and successfully complete treatment.

The team from Rally Foundation then went on to explain what their organization does and how we can all help. Childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of kids 0-15 years old in the United States. The Rally team gives individuals the opportunity to raise funds and awareness to help win the fight against childhood cancer. Their presentation highlighted upcoming marathon and half-marathon events around the country that they use to build fundraiser teams.

I am blessed to be a healthy and active young adult. I am fortunate to be able to get on my feet and be physically free to run, jump, swim, and do any activity I so choose. Unfortunately, many children diagnosed with cancer do not have the same luxury. After hearing the Rally team's presentation, I knew that competing in a half-marathon would be a great way to show my support for the cause while feeling truly thankful for my health. That is why I, along with my teammates here at Coca-Cola, will be running in the March 12th Publix Georgia Half-Marathon. I am running for Madeline (my Rally Kid) and you can find her story here: http://rallyfoundation.org/index.php/kids/rallykids/3

Until this past November, I had little idea of how big an issue childhood cancer is in our world. A majority of the drugs and treatments on the market today are for adults with cancer, but not for kids. There is inadequate funding for more research into treatment options for children, and as long as we continue doing business as usual, many kids will lack the options they need to live a long and healthy life. I hope that after reading my story you will remember Madeline and the many other children fighting cancer.

I am very fortunate to be happy, healthy and cancer-free, and it is a privilege to use my blessings of good health to help those in need. From myself and all of the kids at the Rally Foundation, we thank you for your time and we hope that you will join us in the fight against childhood cancer.

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