Cancer Survivor Runs First Half Marathon With Help From Friends - KOAM TV 7

Cancer Survivor Runs First Half Marathon With Help From Friends


2,000 runners filled Joplin streets Saturday for the Joplin Memorial Run. While the race draws crowds from all over our four state area, one Oklahoma runner is changing up the traditional way of running all to support her good friend who is fighting cancer.

Stephanie Flanary had always dreamed of completing a half marathon ...until she was diagnosed with a rare form of throat cancer.

"It was just devastating. I know I wasn't able to be there to support her because we didn't live together and live in the same city. And it was just devastating." her friend, and former coworker Eva Caparello says.

So Stephanie and Eva came up with an alternative way to get her across the finish line.

"I always watched her through facebook and stuff, so I messaged her and asked her "hey do you want to push somebody across the line? And she said heck yeah I will!" Flanary says.

The two friends, who have been friends for nearly 40 years looked long for races but most don't allow runners to be pushed. Joplin organizer Rufus Racing was the exception to that rule.

"I couldn't believe it was something that was local, and it was such a good race. And this is a race that's all about hope." Caparello explains.

The run provides hope for those who lost loved ones in the 2011 Joplin tornado. Eva, along with her son Ryan and their friend Robert, all from Oklahoma, take turns pushing Stephanie in the stroller, or 'roller' as she calls it.  

Although the veteran runners are used to running for the best time...they say, they're  proud to push the limit for their friend.

"When you think you can't do anything else, your body does it. You finish, you cross the finish line, and you did it." Caparello says.

Stephanie is now cancer free, and is one step closer to running a race with her own legs. But for now she says she's humbled to be rolling in the race to honor those who lost their lives on May 22nd, something she hopes inspires others.

"Keep going. Don't give up. It's worth the fight." she suggests.

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