Thirteen deserving participants have been chosen to be a part of the annual Lucky 13, a free Tri-City Medical Center sponsored training program for the Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Marathon and Half Marathon on January 15, 2017. The training program began in July and will prepare the participants to safely walk or run in their first-ever half or full marathon.
Each runner brings along their own personal story of conquering adversity and is overcoming illnesses from herniated discs to lupus to late-stage and even terminal cancers.
Ranging in age from 24 to 68, the Lucky 13 will receive specialized training led by coaches from Tri-City Wellness Center and In Motion Fit, a six-month membership to the wellness center, and a personal health assessment in addition to weekly group training.
From Paul Carey, Lucky 13 program coordinator:
“We always have a great pool of applicants to choose from, but this year, we had some really incredible stories. It’s inspiring to witness these journeys firsthand. Running a half marathon is a feat that not everyone can say they’ve done, especially not at 67 years old or after beating a cancer diagnosis.”
Meet the 2016-2017 Lucky 13 participants who come from a diverse set of backgrounds with a variety of conditions.
Sandra Henika, 56, Vista
After being diagnosed and treated for brain cancer, Sandra spent 28 days recovering in the hospital during which time she had to relearn how to walk and go through cognitive therapy. Her road back to health has been long, but Sandra now wants to tackle the goal of completing a half-marathon and she knows she will with the support of the Lucky 13 group!
Robin Ike, 50, Vista
Robin began experiencing knee pain and personal setbacks which eventually led to weight gain. However, she’s looking forward to joining the Lucky 13 group and reach her weight goals, run in the Triple Crown, and improve her overall well-being during this time of her life.
Melanie Kabo, 40, Carlsbad
Melanie, a mother of four, was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 36. At that moment, Melanie realized life really is short and wanted to get busy living! She is starting to cross items off her bucket list and one of those is running a half-marathon. Through the Lucky 13 group, Melanie knows she’ll receive the support and motivation she needs to accomplish her goals.
Luanne Minette, 67, Oceanside
After years of pain from arthritis, Luanne underwent surgery and had joint replacements in both her feet in 2012. Since her surgery, she has learned to push past the pain she still feels and enjoys dancing, walking on the beach, and playing with her grandchildren. Luanne read about the Lucky 13 group and knew she would regret not trying it – we are glad she decided to join!
Kristina Wilson, 43, Carlsbad
In 2009, Kristina became sick with a seemingly normal common cold. Unfortunately, the virus spread to her heart, causing congestive heart failure. Now that her heart condition is under control with medication, she would like to be more active with the family when they enjoy hiking, biking, and general fun outdoor adventures. When asked what she is most looking forward to with the Lucky 13 program, Kristina said, “I want to do everything I can to get and stay healthy, grow old with my husband, and watch our son grow up into the amazing man I know he will be.”
Kristina King, 24, Solana Beach
At a young age, Kristina was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a type of cancer that affects the eye. She had surgery to treat the cancer but at the cost of removing her eye as well. That hasn’t stopped Kristina, though, as her competitive spirit pushed her to participate in various sports while growing up. She is excited to be part of the Lucky 13 team and acting as a role model for kids going through cancer.
Keith Stuessi, 50, Carlsbad
As he describes it, Keith went through hell and back during his battle with esophageal cancer in 2013. He lost nearly 100 pounds of weight, was hospitalized for eight weeks, and was unable to walk for months. Keith beat cancer and began his road to recovery and it was by chance he crossed paths with former Lucky 13 member Melissa Cappuccilli. She told Keith about the Lucky 13 group and now he wants to run a half-marathon to, as he says, “put cancer in the rear view mirror” and prove that he has truly beaten this horrible disease.
Katharine Salas, 35, Vista
Katharine was diagnosed with systematic lupus at the age of 28. Today, she manages her disease with medication, stress management, sleep and exercise. Katharine is looking forward to sharing her story about living with a chronic illness and thriving with it. “I want this year to be life changing for good despite the ups and downs of my disease. I look forward to crossing the finish line with the biggest smile on my face and fullness in my heart.”
Jennifer Crawford, 32, Carlsbad
After graduate school, Jennifer was diagnosed with undifferentiated connective tissue disease, an autoimmune condition, after contracting the Epstein Barr Virus. An increasingly stressful job caused Jennifer to re-evaluate what she wanted to do in her career, as well as her health. She decided to go back to school and stepped into the world of early childhood education. Now that she loves what she does for a living, Jennifer wants to start knocking some items off her bucket list, starting with a half-marathon! While she knows it won’t be easy, she said, “I hope to learn how to run and exercise safely and create a habit of working out so that I can make fitness a way of life.”
Greg Warda, 67, Carlsbad
Greg has faced multiple health setbacks in his life, but that hasn’t stopped him! In 1999, Greg was diagnosed with colon cancer, but after a colectomy and ileostomy, he is cancer free. In 2013, he had a robotic spinal fusion performed by Tri-City’s Dr. Moazzaz which Greg says, “improved [his] lifestyle 95 percent!” And in 2015, Greg experienced a severe macular tear in his retina which reduced his vision by half overnight, but after surgery, he is now back to his normal self. Greg is looking forward to completing not only the Carlsbad Half Marathon, but the three half marathons here in San Diego County as well! Greg said of the Lucky 13 program, “I hope to finish the program a healthier, more disciplined me with the conviction that the Lucky 13 Program had found me for a reason, not only to help me but to help me help others!”
David Tweedy, 57, Carlsbad
David is no stranger to marathons – he has run three in the past – but this time is different. Weight gain and high blood pressure has made David realize it’s time to turn things around, and he’s looking forward to doing that with the Lucky 13! He said he is thrilled to be part of a unique group “fighting to get their health back.” We’re looking forward to seeing what David can do!
Crystal Goodwater, 35, Escondido
Crystal had a promising career in nursing, but a car accident in 2012 rendered her disabled forcing her to give up her job. Since then, she has pursued other activities such as volunteering, but most importantly being the mother of three homeschooled children. Crystal is looking forward to making the impossible possible and challenge the labels she was given throughout her life. When asked her goals of being a Lucky 13 member, Crystal said, “Lucky 13 is not about a specific goal for me, but rather a chance at being the person I always wished I could be.”
Nicole, 30, San Diego
Nicole’s life suddenly changed the day she found out she had a malignant brain tumor, and while this news is not one she wanted to hear, it helped her make changes in her life for the better. Now that Nicole is making healthy changes, the next step she wants to take is accomplish something big – that’s what she’s doing by joining the Lucky 13 group. With the support and motivation of the group, we know Nicole will finish the half-marathon!