I was on a plane, headed to New York. Everything around me was a blur, but what was in my mind was clear. Thoughts of what I was doing, where I was going, and how I was going to do it, were racing through the back of my mind.
My name is Ciera Sesock and I am 13 years old. I was diagnosed with a lung condition called ABPA, that limits what my lungs can handle. With this in mind, I still decided to run the New York City United Airlines Half Marathon. People I know have told me I’m crazy, but I want to change the world and challenge my ability to succeed in different aspects of life. At times I may have wanted to quit, but I kept going because not only am I challenging myself, but I am also running with DetermiNation. DetermiNation is a group of endurance athletes who fundraise for the American Cancer Society. I chose this charity because recently was the anniversary of my aunt’s death from cancer. I wanted to run for her. She was always looking for ways to help others, so I wanted to do this for her. Running for her was my way of honoring her for all she had done for me.
When I landed in New York, I knew there was no turning back. I had set a goal to run the half marathon, and I knew that I had to accomplish it.
The next day my mom and I went to the race Expo. I realized that I was just one of thousands running the race. This gave me sudden relief from some nerves because I realized that I would never be alone. There was almost 22,000 people conquering the challenge. They all were just like me. They set a goal to finish the half marathon. Many of them thought I was amazing for running at the age of 13, with an uncommon lung disease. However, I told them that what really mattered is that I am doing this for all the cancer patients who are fighting their battle or lost their life. I am running for hope of a cancer-free future- for less lives to be destroyed.
The day before the race, Team DetermiNation went for a 3-mile run through the city. It started at the Hope Lodge, a place that cancer patients stay through the duration of their treatments. This was amazing. Even in that small amount of mileage, I could see New York for its beauty. There were many different sights to see; there were, what felt like, millions of people everywhere, many large buildings stood so tall, you couldn’t see the top of them, and there was a park that was placed above the city. This park was called The High Line. It was an abandoned railroad, that now is full of murals and flowers. People can walk on this 1.45-mile-long trail in Manhattan.
Once we returned to Hope Lodge, all the team members had breakfast with the cancer patients. My mom and I talked to many of them and heard their life stories. I realized that this was one of the reasons why I was running and fundraising. I knew that I was nervous for the race, but I told myself that when the race would get tough, I had to think of these cancer patients. I realized that there were many others just like the ones I had met that day. Each had their own unique stories, and each were trying to stay strong, as they fought their battles against cancer.
Later that night, we also had a team dinner, before the race. At this dinner the team coach, Ramon Bermo, said a few words about the importance of team DetermiNation and gave out awards to the outstanding runners, who raised the most money or made the most effort the help. So, I was surprised when I was given the Tim Cohn award. I was given this award for inspiration. I was delighted that my message to inspire my peers was shown to others. Although, I got that award, the most inspirational part of that night to me was a speech given by a cancer patient. She ran the New York City Marathon and said that she was always in the hospital, watching the race. She said she had always seen the Queens bridge, and she was determined to “look left” when she ran through it. She looked left to see the hospital. She was upset because she couldn’t see it from the bridge. However, she realized that it was such a small part in her life, no one could see it, yet she knew it was there. I wanted to keep all the stories of these cancer patients and their struggles in my mind as I ran. They all have struggled; so, I will run to fight for them, despite my lung condition.
At the beginning of the race, I was so nervous and cold. I knew what was ahead of me, but I wanted to try to achieve my goal. I needed to do this because I didn’t want my lungs to control everything I can or can’t do. At mile 9, I started to cramp up in my legs. I felt like I couldn’t finish. The people on the sides of the race were cheering for the runners to keep us going. There were signs everywhere to keep the spirits of the runners high. I started to think of the cancer patients, my aunt who passed away from cancer, the story of the bridge, and the award that was given to me for inspiration; these factors are what kept me going. They kept me going until I finished the half marathon, and I am thankful for that. I have a lung condition, and finished a half marathon; I just want to let everyone know that no matter how large your goal is, you can accomplish it.