Houston Marathon: Despite Fighting Cancer and Other Life-Threatening Problems, 5 Unsung Heroes That Won a Million Hearts Over The Years

Published 01/16/2024, 6:33 AM EST

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The 52nd reiteration of the Houston Marathon took place in the United States this weekend. The race’s history is made more prominent by five unsung heroes who have participated in different editions.

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Despite personal hardships, these daredevils gave their all to complete the 26.2-mile course. Their strides belied the physical and emotional challenges they had overcome, inspiring spectators and fellow runners alike.

Five inspirational figures create epochal moments at the Houston Marathon


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The five runners in our story have defied insurmountable obstacles to reach the finish line of the Houston Marathon during different editions. Let’s review the precise nature of each of their achievements.

  1. Orly Fuerst

This teacher of Torah Girls Academy is suffering from stage 4 colon cancer. As per the doctor’s prognosis in 2022, she had about nine months left to live. Surprisingly, instead of fear and foreboding of death, this report instilled in her “a sense of power”. She joined the 2024 Houston Marathon with her daughter to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Her daughter, Abrielle, shared her mother’s fiery spirit in an interview with ABC13 Eyewitness News. She said, “They (doctors) said to her she would never run again and she’s like ‘watch me I’m watching a half marathon’ next year”.


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  1. Harsh Bhasin

This 34-year-old visually impaired track and field enthusiast confirmed he would run at the 2023 Chevron Marathon. Suffering from a brain tumor as a child has left Bhasin without sight. However, track and field has helped him to feel empowered and “fill the gap” with his zeal.

  1. Benjy Metry

A fourth-grader was one of the strongest supporters of cancer research in the country in 2018. Inspired by his father’s passion for running marathons, Metry participated in the 2018 Houston Half Marathon. His father lost a courageous battle with esophageal cancer in 2015. Thus, the young runner wanted to raise money to help others with cancer at MD Anderson. He finished the course in two hours and 42 minutes and raised $17,000 for his noble cause.

  1. Harriette Thompson 

This 94-year-old legend defeated cancer twice to run the San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon in 2017. She held the record of being the oldest participant ever. Thompson has also raised $115,000 to fund cancer research in the country.

  1. Julie Millen

Julien Millen ran the Chevron Houston Marathon in 2018. She started a day early to cover the 26.2-mile course four times. Running more than 100 miles without sleep for 30 hours is part of Millen’s routine. She did this to raise money for a childhood cancer patient named Brayden.


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Beyond the blisters

The Chevron Houston Marathon Run for a Reason charity program has helped the philanthropic endeavors of countless runners. Since its advent and inception in 1995, the program has raised approximately $37M for charities across the country.

92-Year-Old Marathon Runner Puts Many to Shame With His Unstoppable Outing


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Chevron and Aramco have joined hands in the last ten years to promote the cause of these runners who tackle hardships to raise money for noble causes.

Watch This Story: Bubba Wallace Has Fans Roaring With Hilarious Gesture for ‘Marathon Man’ Best Friend



Written by:

Anchal Ahuja


One take at a time

I am Anchal Ahuja, an Olympic Sports writer at EssentiallySports. My love for sports grew when I first watched Olympics when I was 7-years-old. Growing up as I started to delve deeper into the sporting realm, I decided to move on with my new passion with all new hopes to get success.
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Edited by:

Himanshu Sridhar




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