Jackie Gingrich Cushman

If you are lucky, you have people that you love in your life. If you're really lucky, you have people that inspire you, as well. I love my sister Kathy, but she also is an incredible inspiration to me -- and might be to you, once you hear her story.

This past weekend, we both completed our fifth marathon. We finished the Pasadena, Calif., race along with two other members of the America to Anywhere for Arthritis team. Even the fifth time, 26.2 miles is a very long way to go. I'd like to say that I trained long and hard and the marathon was a breeze -- but that would be a lie.

I barely trained. The last time I went 26.2 miles was the fourth marathon I completed over a year ago. The farthest I went during this training cycle was 18 miles -- not long enough, by the way.

Last week, I came close to canceling my trip. I had not trained properly; there were quite a few school activities for the children that I would miss. But I couldn't. How could I call and tell my sister that I would not be going with her to the marathon?

Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis over 20 years ago, it is much harder for Kathy to finish a marathon than it is for me. Less than a decade ago, the disease had left her with days when she could not get out of bed without help. Getting dressed was often a challenge, and she could not raise her arms high enough to close the back hatch of my car.

Thanks to research, new drugs and new therapies, Kathy has now completed five marathons.

A miracle.

Thank God for donors who donate, researchers who research and doctors who learn new therapies to treat their patients. The Arthritis Foundation is the largest funder of research for arthritis and is the reason we run (walk) marathons. The America to Anywhere to Arthritis team raises money for the Arthritis Foundation and raises awareness about this debilitating disease.

Facts that you might not know according to the Arthritis Foundation's website: "Arthritis is a serious, painful and debilitating disease. Arthritis is the nation's leading cause of disability. One in every five American adults has doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Kids get arthritis, too."

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”.