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PROFILE: UC Staff Member Plans Run Across Alaska

Lee Cirilli hopes to raise $4,000 to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by running in the 26.2-mile Midnight Sun Marathan in Anchorage, Alaska in June.

Date: 3/31/2003 8:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
UC ingot Lee Cirilli is training for an event that has already changed her life. Cirilli, a mechanical engineer for the University Architect Department of Renovation, has been eating right, working out and raising money to run in a June marathon. The runners that get to the finish line are hoping their victory will save lives.

Lee Cirilli

Cirilli, a resident of Edgewood, Ky., will run in the 26.2-mile Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska as part of a program called Team in Training. The marathon is a fund-raiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In addition to getting to the finish line, Lee’s goal is to raise $4,000 to work toward a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma as well as to improve the quality of life for patients. Cirilli’s on a team with six local women who are working to raise $24,000 for the society’s southern Ohio chapter, which serves Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, Dayton and southeastern Ohio.

Team in Training bills itself as the world’s largest sports endurance program. The organization provides the coaching, training and travel accommodations in exchange for the amount of money that each runner raises to cover his or her own expenses as well as meeting their goals for the fund-raiser.

“I committed in December, went to a kickoff and learned about what I was expected to do,” Cirilli says. “I started training in January.”

Cirilli says she has previously run in local 5K and 10K races, but never in such an intensive marathon—26.2 miles. She is following a daily training schedule, alternating days on when to life weights, swim, run and “rest.” Runners alternate longer, Saturday practice runs between Weller Park and the Boat House downtown. “That’s kind of neat, because you’ll see between 50-100 people running together. We meet at 7 a.m.”

Lee Cirilli

Where does she get the motivation to keep up the daily workout routine? “They give us this-- this little motivator,” she says, smiling, as she pulls on a wristband she has been wearing since January. On the wristband is a name: Allison Kahny, a North Bend girl who was diagnosed with leukemia when she was just two years old. Allison is now 13 years old, and is in remission.

“Team in Training introduces you to a ‘hero,’ and mine is Allison,” Cirilli explains. “I wear this (bracelet) faithfully. On days when I don’t feel up for training, I think of Allison. She didn’t have a choice. She had to get up and fight.”

Cirilli’s marathon will take her through Alaska’s Shugach Mountains and parks along Chester Creek. Her husband Jim and 15-year-old daughter Amanda will also join her in Alaska to cheer her on.

In addition to training, the Cirilli family, including 18-year-old daughter Sarah, is pitching in to raise money for the marathon. They’ve sent out letters for donations, bagged groceries for tips and are planning garage sales, bake sales and a golf outing to get to the $4,000 goal. Cirilli also keeps her Team in Training T-shirt in her office, signed by colleagues who have donated to the fund-raiser in Allison's name. For more information on contributions, contact Lee Cirilli at 556-4281 or e-mail


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