We are very grateful to Megan Howland and Michelle Brunk for their support of our mission. After losing their uncle suddenly to cancer, these generous sisters began raising money in his memory as part of their participation in the Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon & 1/2 Marathon on April 13. Learn more about their fundraising efforts and how they did in their first half marathon below.
PearlPoint: Tell me about who you are fundraising in honor of and why.
Megan: We are fundraising in honor of our uncle, Paul Gottschalk. Paul and his wife, Jo, are residents of Nashville and had visited the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center after his diagnosis of Neuroendocrine cancer. Unfortunately his cancer spread so rapidly that he was not able to take advantage of the groundbreaking research happening at Sarah Cannon.
Our family had never experienced the sudden loss of a loved one to cancer. I needed a positive outlet to channel all the pain, hurt, and anger the experience left me feeling. Thus, our fundraiser was born. After learning about the Sarah Cannon Fund and its support of PearlPoint Cancer Support, it was a no-brainer when deciding where our fundraising efforts should go.
PearlPoint: How did training go for you? Was this your first race?
Megan: My sister Michelle suggested the Rock and Roll Marathon in her home city of Raleigh, NC. We ran the Army 10 miler together a few years ago, but this was first half for both of us.
Training was steady; and definitely more of a mental battle than anything else! Neither of us have ever been runners, though we were involved in sports when we were younger. I still don’t think I would call myself a runner. But I am a person who sets goals and accomplishes them.
PearlPoint: Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while fundraising for the race. How did you spread the word?
Megan: Facebook was our primary way of sharing our fundraiser. Man did this thing take on a life of its own! We have more than trippled our goal and that is due in large part to how loved Uncle Paul is, and how badly he is missed. In lieu of flowers, the family also asked for donations to be made to our fundraiser.
Through social media and family emails, the word spread. Family members emailed friends, those friends emailed others. Through our grassroots efforts it has been so heartwarming to hear from complete strangers their connection to Uncle Paul. We’ve loved hearing silly stories and sharing pictures. We definitely feel an army of support “running” with us!
PearlPoint: What do you do when you aren’t running and fundraising?
Megan: When not running, I am a wife to the most supportive husband, Chad, a mommy of two (Leah, 4 1/2; Jackson, 3), and a teacher. I love to read and get outside to take advantage of Northern Virginia weather! I am a crafter and amatuer photographer. My favorite times are family times.
When Michelle is not running, fundraising, or working for Lenovo, she is playing with her sweet rescue dog, singing with the North Carolina Master Chorale, or relaxing in Raleigh with her husband Erich.
PearlPoint: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life?
Megan: Oh man this is a difficult question. I’m not sure there is just one, but after going through this experience I would say one of the most important life lessons I have learned is to go for it. Whatever it’ may be for you go for it. Believe in yourself, set goals you think are impossible, take that vacation you’ve been putting off, sign up for a race when you’re not a runner, set a fundraising goal when you aren’t sure anyone will donate (and then triple your goal), hope for a cure, fight for a cure, BELIEVE there can BE a cure. Work will always be there…enjoy your family and live a full life. Most importantly support others.
PearlPoint: What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating to PearlPoint?
Megan: DO IT! Our family were blown away with the personal touch our friends at PearlPoint gave to our fundraiser. I never expected to hear directly from the organization receiving our donations, much less multiple times. This organization truly cares about the families impacted by this monster of a disease and we are so lucky to have them here supporting families, educating, and providing guidance.