Wilton Cancer Survivor Takes On Marathon Challenge For Charity

WILTON, Conn. -- Jenn Lewis told her college roommate that someday she would run a marathon with her sister. Twenty-five years later, one terrifying medical ordeal and three children later, the Wilton woman is ready to honor that vow.

Jenn Lewis of Wilton will run the TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 2.

Jenn Lewis of Wilton will run the TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 2.

Photo Credit: Contributed

Lewis will run for the Fairfield-based Connecticut Challenge in the TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday, Nov. 2, along with her sister, Nancy Shidler of Oklahoma City. 

The run will come four years after she fought cancer of the appendix, and more than two decades after watching Nancy run her first marathon. “This has been on my bucket list for 25 years,’’ Lewis said. “It’s actually the only thing on my bucket list.”

This will be the first marathon for Lewis, and readers can support her by making a donation through her online fundraising page.

Four years ago, Lewis thought she might never have a chance to run a marathon. Shortly after her battle with cancer, she broke her ankle. The injury required a plate and eight screws, surgery and months of rehabilitation.

“I really thought it wasn’t going to happen,’’ Lewis said. “I thought I have to really let this go.”

Lewis started cycling, and was coached by Jean Paul Desrosiers of Sherpa in Westport. “The first goal was a 50-mile bike ride for CT Challenge, and then the triathlon,’’ Lewis said. “Jean said to me, ‘What are your big goals?’ I told him I wanted to run a marathon with my sister. That was 3½ years ago. This has been the ultimate goal all along.”

Lewis contacted her sister and worked out the details. “I realized last year it would be 25 years since it was her first marathon,’’ she said. “Last year when I watched it on television, I was in tears because I knew this was going to be the year.”

Planning on running a marathon, and actually doing it, are different tasks. Lewis could ride 50 miles on a bike, and has led several teams on the ride in the CT Challenge. She did not ride this year due to family obligations.

“Words cannot express the difference between cycling and running,’’ Lewis said. “When you’re running, you’re relying on your body and your mind. When you’re biking, you have this awesome machine working with you. Not having that component while running makes it more challenging.”

Some of Lewis’ longer runs take her on routes which she used to ride. “I’ll run a loop in Westport where a lot of people cycle,’’ she said. “That’s my running route now. Never in a million years did I think my old cycling route would turn into my running route. It’s tough to be out there for three and four hours.”

Four years ago, Lewis could not have envisioned becoming an endurance athlete. Now she is competing in triathlons, cycling and running. “I guess I’m a little bit of everything,’’ she said. “The one thing that has me stumped is the swim. Everyone in my family swims competitively or plays water polo, except for me. I’m the only land lover in the family. In 2015, it’s going to be all about the swim for me.”

First, though, will be the five-borough journey through New York with her sister.

“This means more to me than I can put into words,’’ said Lewis, whose friend from Wilton, Lisa Schneider, will also be running for CT Challenge. “When I think about it, it brings tears of joy. It’s been an emotional journey, that’s for sure.  I’m happy that I can do this in support of the Connecticut Challenge.”


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