Jackie Gingrich Cushman

My sister Kathy is incredible, a wonderful sister, a loving wife, a wise businesswoman, a marathon finisher and a fun aunt. Diagnosed over 20 years ago with rheumatoid arthritis, Kathy's determination, high spirits and optimistic outlook on life have inspired me to run several marathons with her.

A decade ago, she had days when it was hard to get out of bed. Now, on a new drug regimen, she has completed four marathons and is training for her fifth. She leads the America to Anywhere for Arthritis fundraising team, which has raised over $160,000 for the Arthritis Foundation.

This year, we are training for the Pasadena Marathon, to be held on May 20. At 26.2 miles to complete, marathon training involves months of long runs every other week, gradually working up to the total distance. This week my goal is to finish 18 miles, and I've decided to attempt the training run on Kathy's birthday, March 29.

No doubt that at some point during my 18 mile outing, I will want to quit, to give up, to call it a day, but my plan is to think of my sister and to listen to, but not heed, my doubts. This marathon is not about me, but about being with my sister, Kathy.

Kathy has helped reshape my understanding of the meaning of life. Are accomplishments and achievements important? Absolutely. But are people more important? Absolutely.

Happy Birthday, Kathy. May there be many more to come!


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.