Running for Ella
Marathoner Tanya Taylor ’02, runs to raise money for the two-year-old daughter of her college friends Dean ’02 and Heather Arnold Holman ’02
Most people can’t imagine running one marathon, let alone two in one weekend. But that is exactly what Tanya Taylor ’02 will be doing when she runs the Goofy’s Race and Half Challenge in Walt Disney world on Jan. 12 and 13.
The 39.3-mile race takes place over two days and encompasses a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday.
But these races aren’t for fun. Taylor is running to raise money for two-year-old Ella Holman, who is undergoing treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Ella is the daughter of Heather and Dean Holman, both 2002 graduates of UMHB and Taylor’s long-time friends.
“When Ella was diagnosed with leukemia, I asked myself, ‘how can I support Heather and Dean?’ I knew medical costs were going to start adding up,” Taylor said.
The UMHB alumna began researching how she could help the Holmans, contacting the Team in Training running program that allows runners and other athletes to raise money for blood cancers.
“But when you’re a part of Team in Training your fundraising goes directly to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society instead of an individual family,” Taylor said.
But that didn’t stop Taylor. She was determined to find a way to help her friends. She did some more research and found out that Walt Disney World is not only a supporter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, but also hosts marathons every year to allow runners like Taylor to raise money on their own.
“I also developed a website where I could put information about Ella, about the race, what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it,” she said.
Taylor also found four other people to join her in running and raising money for Ella.
“We put a goal out there of $5,000,” she said. “But we hope that we can also gain some attention and more funding by running these races.”
Taylor wants to make sure her close friends, who are living on a single teacher’s income, don’t have to worry about financial burdens while they are focusing on getting their daughter well. And the Holman’s appreciate all of Taylor’s hard work.
“It means everything to Dean and me,” Heather Holman said. “We don’t have a lot of family support, so our friends are basically our family.”
Heather said she is touched by all of Taylor’s help in trying to make this difficult time easier for her family.
“Not many people would go to Disney World to run a race for your daughter,” she said.
Right now Taylor and her teammates are in training, while Ella is in treatment to maintain her remission status. Taylor hopes that Ella’s illness and the family’s financial burdens will soon be over.
“I hope that Ella is soon is in full remission and does not have to struggle with this disease any longer. And I hope that running these marathons encourages others to support the Holmans.”
-Jessa Grassi McClure ’08