Why I Run #FTK

It was never my goal to run a marathon. The farthest I had ever run was 13.1 miles and the thought of running a distance twice that far seemed impossible. As it turned out, it wasn’t impossible and running in the 2019 New York City Marathon in support of Experience Camps was by far one of the greatest experiences and accomplishments of my life.

2019 started out as the worst year– it was the first without my mother who had died weeks earlier after a 7-month battle with cancer. My world was flipped upside down; I was learning how to grieve and craving a sense of normalcy at a time when nothing felt right. The opportunity to run the NYC Marathon in support of Experience Camps presented itself to me and I couldn’t resist.

Daniela with her fingers in the air

Experience Camps is a place where children who have suffered enormous tragedy in the loss of a parent or sibling are not alone and where they can feel joy even in the darkest times. It’s where they feel supported and loved and safe. Over the years, I have witnessed first-hand how camp impacts these kids and, now, after experiencing the death of my mother, I have personally felt that impact. I wanted to impact more lives and help provide more children with the opportunity to experience the magic that is Experience Camps.

I dedicated each mile of the marathon to those people who have inspired and supported me during my grief journey. As seen in the photo, I listed those people on my arm for the race as a reminder of the courage and resilience that the Experience Camps community embodies. When I felt tired and sore and my body wanted to slow down, I looked down at my arm and just kept running.

In running the NYC Marathon for Experience Camps, I was able to take my grief and use it to help others — to carry on the memory of loved ones lost, and to raise money for an organization that changes lives, including my own. I will be forever grieving the death of my mother, but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep living. My mother loved and lived harder than anyone I know. With the help of my Experience Camps family, I’ve realized that living a fulfilled life and making the world a bit better can be the greatest way to honor someone.

Daniela's arm with names on it

I could not have accomplished this feat without the support of so many special people– the campers who inspire me with their strength and resilience, the counselors and clinicians who give their time and hearts, my friends and family who cheered along the course and sent digital support from afar, and everyone who generously donated to the cause. I am grateful to everyone who supported me and Experience Camps in my journey to the finish line of the 2019 NYC Marathon, and I look forward to cheering on the 2020 Experience Camps marathon team!

If you’d like to experience the life-changing journey that is the TCS NYC Marathon, I encourage you to apply to run FTK: www.experience.camp/nycmarathon.