For 15 years, the St. Jude Memphis Marathon has been one of the most unique marathons around. With runners raising money for St. Jude patients, this marathon tugs at heart strings, even those not competing.
This year, one of the University of Mississippi’s very own, sophomore Margaret Felsher, decided to run the race. Felsher chose to run the 13.1 mile half marathon. She worked hard and trained for months trying to build up strength to endure the long run.
Photo by Margaret Felsher minutes after completing the St. Jude half marathon.
Felsher is a member of Tri Delta sorority on campus, and their philanthropy is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.
“I did it for the kids, not myself,” said Felsher. Her love for the children is what fueled her run. “I never thought I would be the kind of person who willingly ran 13.1 miles, but the children at St. Jude have inspired me in a way I never knew was possible.”
Felsher raised a total of $530 with the help of her friends and family. While the training was long and hard, Felsher was not in it alone. Harley Felsher, Margaret’s sister and Tri Delta alumni, ran alongside her.
“Having someone like your sister run with you for such an amazing cause makes it that much more encouraging and worthwhile,” said Harley Felsher just after the race.
From left, Margaret and Harley Felsher.
Harley Felsher has run in a few half marathons and continues to work hard to help raise money for St. Jude patients. Margaret and Harley Felsher gave it their all and fought to keep each other going when the race got tough.
“I’m not going to say it’s the easiest thing I’ve done, because that would be a lie, but it’s definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done,” said Harley Felsher. “Nothing beats the feeling at the end of the race when you look back and realize you just ran 13.1 miles for children who are hopeless without our help.”
While the sisters had friends and family as a support team, the patients’ families also cheered them on throughout the race. They outlined the streets with signs, some even in costumes, to help make the race fun and spirited.
“Seeing the families on the side of the streets with the children all holding signs was, by far, the best part,” said Margaret Felsher. “No words can explain how it makes you feel when you see how appreciative they are for all that you’re doing.”
While this was not Harley Felsher’s first race, the feelings were the same.
“It’s so encouraging to see all the families, and it never gets any less emotional,” she said. “Every time I see them, it always makes me tear up a little just to see their faces so overjoyed with hope.”
The two sisters are a power team when it comes to working out together and lifting one another up. Laura Felsher, their mother, was beyond proud of her girls this past Saturday.
“The girls work so well together, and it warms my heart to see the two leaning on each other to help support such an awesome cause,” said Laura Felsher. “Ever since they were young, they have been determined, and when they put their minds to something, the outcome is always great.”
Growing up, Margaret Felsher was encouraged by her father, who ran all the time. She always enjoyed exercise, but never imagined she would enjoy running enough to want to run 13.1 miles.
“When I was younger, I saw my dad running all the time and wondered how he ran as far as he did,” she said. “Now I’ve come to realize it’s not about the distance as much as it is about if you’re enjoying it. I can honestly say this half marathon was easier than some of my shorter runs in the past solely because I was enjoying what I was doing. I think that’s the key.”
The race may be over, but its lasting impact remains. While the girls may be sore, every ache reminds them why they did it and makes them feel that much more accomplished.
Photo by Fairlie Outland. Margaret’s race number she kept as a memory of the big day.
“I was expecting to be a lot more tired and sore than I am,” Margaret Felsher said. “I honestly just feel really accomplished and proud.”
Friends and family who couldn’t be there to watch the sisters in action reached out over social media to show their love and support. The Tri Delta chapter as a whole was extremely proud of their selflessness and will to help raise money for the kids.
“This is definitely something I would do again,” said Margaret Felsher. “I think, for now, I’m going to stick with the half marathon. Maybe one day in the future you’ll catch me completing the full… maybe.”
While people run marathons all the time, it’s not every day you see two sisters running solely out of their love for the children of St. Jude. Their hard work and dedication has inspired many around them and helped scientists in their effort to get one step closer to ending childhood cancer for good.
Photo by Fairlie Outland. Crowds of people gathered at the start of the race.
Aside from the hard work Margaret and Harley Felsher put forth, the race raised $2 million more than the 2015 race. A record 23,000 runners came out to support St. Jude, raising a total of $1o million for the charity.
Thanks to people like Margaret and Harley Felsher, it’s becoming more possible for St. Jude children to celebrate another birthday.