These Fairmount ladies are walking the walk

Fair­mount's Team Pa­per Crane is train­ing to take on the 26.2 mile course of the Bo­ston Mara­thon for next month’s Jimmy Fund Walk.

In Ja­pan­ese tra­di­tion, if a per­son folds 1,000 pa­per cranes, that per­son gets a wish.

One of the most fam­ous tales of this prac­tice is that of Sadako Sa­saki, who was 11 when atom­ic bombs were dropped about a mile from her home at the end of World War II.

Soon, she de­veloped leuk­emia and while in the hos­pit­al she fol­ded the cranes — a Ja­pan­ese sym­bol of luck and longev­ity — in hopes of a cure.

While there are vari­ous ver­sions of the story — it’s dis­puted wheth­er she com­pleted the cranes be­fore she died at the age of 12 — the story lingers as one of hope and de­term­in­a­tion.

For Team Pa­per Cranes, which will be walk­ing in next month’s Bo­ston Mara­thon Jimmy Fund Walk, their wish is simple.

They hope to help save the lives of those stricken ill with can­cer.

While the team is run by mem­bers from Ver­mont, loc­ally, Fair­mount res­id­ent Kar­en Blan­chard has joined her friend, West Phil­adelphia res­id­ent Alesa Rubend­all, to walk the 26.2 mile course of the Bo­ston Mara­thon for next month’s Jimmy Fund Walk.

The wo­men are former col­lege room­mates who have stayed close throughout the years and are now col­leagues at Cen­ter City’s Wal­lace Roberts and Todd ar­chi­tec­ture firm.

To­geth­er, they will em­bark on their jour­ney on Sunday, Sept. 18.

“I’m from Bo­ston, so, I’m look­ing for­ward to go­ing back,” Blan­chard said dur­ing an in­ter­view last week. “But, it’s my first time do­ing any­thing like this.”

However, she said, walk­ing the en­tire course of the mara­thon will be dif­fi­cult. While Blan­chard’s nev­er done any­thing like this be­fore, Rubend­all has run mara­thons in the past.

To­geth­er, the two have been train­ing since May to pre­pare for the up­com­ing event, walk­ing about 20 miles each week­end.

“It’s Co­pley or bust,” said a grin­ning Rubend­all, in talk­ing about the course that will end at Bo­ston’s Co­pley Square.

Al­though Rubend­all has run mara­thons in the past, she said, the en­dur­ance needed for the long walk is in­cred­ible, not to men­tion the tre­mend­ous strain that the long dis­tance and time spent walk­ing put on one’s body.

The walk of­fers four courses — the 26.3-mile full course as well as a 13.1-mile stretch and five- and three-mile routes — but the wo­men said they wanted to walk the com­plete mara­thon.

“I’ve got­ten more blisters in train­ing for this than in any­thing (else I’ve trained for),” said Rubend­all. “It’s [walk­ing] so much more phys­ic­ally ex­haust­ing than run­ning. The time com­mit­ment is just enorm­ous.”

The long­time friends, both 36, said that they can walk ap­prox­im­ately 12 miles in a little more than three and a half hours, mean­ing the com­ing 26.3-mile course will take more than sev­en hours.

“And we’re really hop­ing that will be in good weath­er,” said Blan­chard.

Since the Bo­ston Mara­thon Jimmy Fund Walk began 22 years ago, the event has raised more than $73 mil­lion for the Dana-Farber Can­cer Re­search Cen­ter.

The fund was es­tab­lished in 1948 to help a 12-year-old boy beat can­cer. He was ori­gin­ally known simply as “Jimmy” to pro­tect his iden­tity, though in 1998, Ein­ar Gust­afson came for­ward as the young can­cer sur­viv­or.

Both wo­men said they had a spe­cial reas­on for par­ti­cip­at­ing in this year’s walk.

“We each have our own mo­tiv­a­tion,” said Blan­chard.

For Rubend­all, she’s walk­ing to sup­port her moth­er-in-law who is the cap­tain of Team Pa­per Cranes.

For Blan­chard, she’s walk­ing for her fath­er who was dia­gnosed with blad­der can­cer a year ago.

Also, they said, it helps that they can train to­geth­er as long time friends.

“It has been great,” said Blan­chard of the train­ing. “It really helps that I’ve been able to do this with her.”

“That, and it’s all to sup­port a good cause,” in­ter­jec­ted Rubend­all.

Both wo­men have friends and fam­ily spon­sor­ing them and all totaled, as of Thursday, Aug. 25th, Team Pa­per Cranes has raised more than $43,000 to help sup­port can­cer re­search.

“It’s really been fun,” said Blan­chard.

Re­port­er Hay­den Mit­man can be reached at 215-354-3124 or hmit­ 


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