For more than a decade, Brooke Curran from Alexandria, Virginia has dedicated much of her time to competitive running, particularly in marathons. At the start, running her first marathon was just an item to cross off her “bucket list,” but as the years passed, her passion turned into her life’s work. It was in 2009 that her dedication to running turned into something more. That’s when she founded the RunningBrooke fund to raise money for impoverished families in her own community. At the start, she set a goal for herself to run a marathon in all 50 states and on all seven continents. On track to achieve this inspiring accomplishment in October, Brooke is looking to the future, challenging herself to run 40 more marathons until she reaches 100 marathons and raises one million dollars by 2016.
“I feel lucky to have such great support from my community so it’s important for me to give back in every way that I can. Raising money through my running is the best way for me to do that,” says Brooke.
In the same year that she founded the RunningBrooke fund, Brooke experienced a frightening respiratory attack during a workout on a local track. Nearly collapsing, she felt burning in her lungs while fighting for air. She feared that her work for the fund wouldn’t have a chance. After this episode, she visited a respiratory specialist and was diagnosed with asthma and exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB). EIB is a temporary narrowing of the airways that occurs during exercise, and 80-90 percent of people with asthma have it. Fortunately, this condition is treatable. She was prescribed a ProAir HFA inhaler (albuterol sulfate) which she takes 15-30 minutes before she exercises, to help open her airways.
After her diagnosis, the fund began to gain momentum, and so did her running. In addition to strength training and conditioning, Brooke now runs about 80 miles per week. She also works to raise awareness about asthma and EIB and the importance of seeing a doctor for proper treatment. She hopes to inspire adults and children with EIB to manage their symptoms so they too can lead active lifestyles. She has even become a board member of the Allergy and Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA), a non-profit family health organization dedicated to eliminating suffering and death due to asthma, allergies and related conditions.
“I need to stay active, not just for myself but for my community as well. It is so important for patients with respiratory issues to visit their doctor, like I did. If you think you might have symptoms of EIB, a doctor can determine a diagnosis and get you on the right treatment,” says Brooke.
This weekend, Brooke is headed to the area to continue her goal. She will be running in the Hatfield-McCoy Marathon on Saturday, June 8. The race will begin in Easter Pike County, Kentucky and will end in Williamson, West Virginia. At a rate of about one per month, this will be Brooke’s 60th marathon. To date, she has run marathons in 46 states and on six continents, raising over $230,000 for local charities. For more information about Brooke’s foundation, visit www.runningbrooke.com.