Milestone birthday motivates local woman to make a difference

PERU - As Michelle St. Onge celebrated her 39th birthday in February, she began thinking - the next birthday she will celebrate will be the one that brings her to the age many dread - the big 4-0.

"As I get closer to my 40th birthday, I have been thinking about the accomplishments and challenges that I have encountered along the way," said St. Onge. "I came to the conclusion that I have been touched by so many people, and blessed in many ways."

Being fortunate for having had such a full life so far, St. Onge decided she needed to give back in a big way, in a way she never had before - running the annual Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco, Calif., to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training.

"It was important to me that whatever I do to celebrate be both personally gratifying and connect me to a higher purpose," she said. "Running a marathon for the benefit of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society allows me to achieve both of those goals."

Though St. Onge has been a casual runner since 2001, the 26.2-mile marathon is an event unlike any other in which she's competed.

"I've only done 5Ks until last year when I ran the Adirondack Distance Festival's half-marathon," St. Onge said, referring to the 13.1-mile event held in Schroon Lake last September. "While running it, I was inspired by the huge presence of purple-shirted Team in Training runners and trainers there, so it got me thinking."

When she turned the almost as big 3-9, St. Onge reflected on those purple shirts and decided to join the effort. Since then, she's been busy asking friends and family for support for the Oct. 18 event. And, with a goal of raising $5,000, she hasn't set the bar low for her first time participating.

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