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Wilton Women Run to Lick Leukemia

WILTON, Conn. – Dina Mariani , Amanda Torres and Lauren Ward will travel nearly 3,600 miles in January just to run about 40 miles. They are doing it with "Team in Training" for the Connecticut chapter of the Wilton-based Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, where all three women work.

They are motivated by more than just fundraising. The women are running the Disney Half Marathon in memory of family members and loved ones who have fought leukemia and other blood cancers. The physical challenges they will endure in January pale in comparison to the battles that their family members fought, they say.

“Who doesn’t want to go to Disney World in January?’’ Ward said. “The Team in Training events are amazing. They’re just so powerful, with all of the runners in their purple shirts and running for a cause. It’s an awesome experience.”

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society program helps people train to compete in marathons, half-marathons, triathlons and 100-mile century bike rides. Since 1988, more than 500,000 volunteer participants have helped raise more than $1.2 billion for the organization.

The Disney race will be the fourth half-marathon and fifth Team in Training event for Mariani, who is running with her sister, Christina. They lost their father, Jerry, to leukemia in 1997.

Ward will run with her son, Mike, in memory of her mother who died 10 years ago. She has run two previous half-marathons. Torres is running her first marathon and her second race this year for Team in Training. She is running with a cousin whose leukemia has been in remission for 13 years.

“I have a very personal connection,’’ said Mariani, who has named her team the "Minnie Marianis." “We have a large family and they’ve been tremendously supportive. Most of my donations have come in that way.”

Torres is looking forward to running in the world-famous amusement park, she said. “When you’re a kid and you think of Disney, it’s so magical," she said. "When you’re an adult and you can go back for something as meaningful as an event like this, it really adds something.”

Readers can contribute by visiting their fundraising pages on the links underlined in the text of this story. The women believe the weekend will provide some unforgettable memories.

For more information about Team In Training running visit its website or contact them at 203-665-1452 .

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