Murray woman runs to raise money for cancer research
Mar 31, 2017 09:43AM
By Alisha Soeken
Wendy Weixler running her first marathon on the Great Wall of China. (Wendy Weixler)
By Alisha Soeken | [email protected]
Born in Hayward, Calif., Wendy Weixler was an energetic girl. She danced and sang, played and dreamed. Her childhood was happy, yet she learned early on that life is fragile.
“My father died of cancer when I was three. I have very few memories of him but I do have memories of loss. I remember that empty feeling of when someone so important in your life is suddenly gone,” Weixler said.
Those feelings of loss would shape Weixler’s life and cement her desire to take care of her body as she got older.
“In his 30s, my stepfather began having heart attacks. My mom also dealt with emphysema, lung and kidney problems and strokes. I didn’t want that to be me and so I was motivated to get off my butt.”
In her mid 40s, Weixler began running.
“At first I did as much walking as I did running. Doing one mile was very hard and it took me a long time to reach 3 miles,” she said.
But like any skill one works hard at, running soon became her talent. Today, Weixler has completed five 5Ks, two Ragnar Relays, nine half marathons and at age 50, she ran her first full marathon across the Great Wall of China.
“I got very emotional climbing the Great Wall, it made me feel so little in the big scheme of life. To be some place that is so iconic and recognizable with such history is overwhelming,” she said.
It wasn’t just the wall, but her purpose for being there that made Weixler’s experience emotional. Weixler ran on the Great Wall for cancer, to raise money for the disease and honor people who have dealt with it.
“My father, best friend, niece and so many of my friends have been affected or taken by cancer,” she said. “I carried their names with me in my pocket as I ran.”
One friend who ran the Great Wall with Weixler in spirit was Tom Rugh, a cancer-fighter whose picture was pinned to her hat.
“While running I kept thinking, ‘If Tom can get up and go for a jog or bike ride with cancer, I can certainly get up and do it without,’” she said.
Though Rugh later lost his battle, his fighting spirit continues to inspire Weixler. In February 2017, with Rugh’s memory in mind, Weixler entered the OutClimb Cancer Challenge to raise money for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. Weixler ran up 24 flights of stairs 30 times.
“When I did the cancer climb I had a name for each time I went up those 24 flights of stairs. I focused on that name to help me get to the top. The last climb was emotional for me. I had found my motivation in so many wonderful and brave people who have touched my life and I couldn’t stop the tears,” she said.
One of the names Weixler ran for that day was Kim Jenkins who dealt with ovarian cancer at age 28.
“Wendy is amazing. I felt so very grateful she had so thoughtfully included me in several of her money- raising efforts. I know people like Wendy made me stronger and in so many ways got me healthy,” Jenkins said.
Weixler continues to run and is currently training for the Salt Lake City Marathon. In the summer, she plans to run a 10K followed by a half marathon the following day.
“Cancer has always been very scary to me. Running and raising money is one way to pay back all of those who have touched my life,” she said. “It also makes me feel as though I have some power to hit cancer where it hurts.”To contribute to Weixler’s next fundraiser visit outclimbcancer.kintera.org/wendyweixler