Local woman enters Boston Marathon

Published 1:08 am Sunday, February 15, 2009

Melissa Wheat of Carriere is racing for a cure.

On April 20 she will be running 26 miles through the streets of Boston, Mass., participating in one of the oldest marathons in the U.S., The Boston Marathon, in memory of her stepfather. Durwood Barber was diagnosed with a plasma cell cancer, or blood cancer, known as Multiple Myeloma. For Barber, from diagnosis to death was only nine months. “It was terrible watching him go through it,” said Wheat.

Barber was pretty involved in the community and most people know who he is, said Wheat. “My stepfather went from being a very active man to one that just… he couldn’t even move.” Wheat hopes that any money she raises by participating in the marathon on behalf of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, will help others from having to go through with that experience.

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The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, MMRF, is a non-profit organization that seeks to find alternative treatments for Multiple Myeloma and hopefully, one day, a cure. Wheat said she has participated in fundraising for the organization before but never to this extreme. She is now charged with raising $5,000 in addition to the 26 mile run she will face in April.

This is Wheat’s first marathon. She will run with a team of eight, all racing for the same cause. She said she chose Boston because she’s never been and she thought it would be cool to vacation in the city and come home exhausted from the race. Through MMRF, she had her choice of marathon’s throughout the country.

The MMRF charity guaranteed Wheat’s spot in the marathon. She did not have to meet the very challenging qualifying times, 26 miles in 2 hours, to earn her spot. Before her recent training, she had never run more than three consecutive miles and she has still has some reservations she said.

“Everybody said, ‘The second you cross the finish line, it’s an incredibly overwhelming experience. You feel full of accomplishment and like you can conquer the world,’” said Wheat.

MMRF has provided Wheat and her teammates a coach, Tom Holland, who in turn provided the runners with a 16-week training schedule and a copy of his book. Holland of Boston promised the group that his techniques, which are mixture of endurance and strength, — if properly followed — will get them to the race and through the race uninjured. “I’m hoping that’s true because I’m really nervous about it,” said Wheat.

To insure her own success, Wheat works out at a local gym and runs in her subdivision. So far, her only reservations are about raising the money she has pledged. “It has been kinda difficult, so far,” she said.

If you or anyone you know would be interested in helping Wheat in her race for a cure for Multiple Myeloma, please visit her Web site: www.active.com/donate/boston2009/melissawheat. For more information about the disease, visit www.multiplemyeloma.org.