"My family, friends, and I recently ran in a 10K race in Big Sur, CA. This race has become a yearly tradition that we all look forward to throughout the year. My father, Bob Schuster (in the yellow), ran in his 33rd consecutive run. He's 67 years-old and he and my mom stumbled upon this race by accident the first year that it took place. Since then, they have completed every single one of the runs.
This year's race was a difficult one for all of us as we ran with extremely heavy hearts. My mom, Donna Schuster, passed away just a few weeks before the race, on August 24. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in July of 2004 - just a few weeks after she completed her first marathon at the age of 58. She was a lifelong runner and an extremely healthy woman. Her diagnosis shocked us all. She fought the cancer tooth and nail for over 9 years. Through surgeries, countless rounds of chemo, and several doses of radiation, she remained bound and determined to stay with us for as long as she possibly could. She even ran another marathon 2 years after her diagnosis while she was in remission. Her courage and strength and willingness to fight allowed her to meet my kids (her two beloved grandchildren), to travel around the world, and to make the most of each and every day.
It's impossible for me to put into words how much this race meant to my mom, and to those of us who love her, over the years. Being able to walk up to the starting line each year, regardless of her physical or emotional condition at the time, was her way of saying, "I'm still in this. The cancer hasn't taken this away from me. I'm still here." She absolutely REFUSED to miss the Big Sur River Run. There were years that she was too weak from chemo or surgery to run. So she walked the entire 10K. There were years she was completely bald. There were years that her body was in so much discomfort that she probably shouldn't have done it. But she did. Every single year - she did it.
As we all stepped up to the starting line of the race on Saturday morning, we couldn't help but smile. Because but for her and my dad's dedication to this little race in Big Sur every October, we might not have this amazing yearly tradition that brings together our closest friends and our families. My mom left behind an amazing legacy and this Big Sur tradition is one we are incredibly proud of and grateful for.
She may not have gotten to run Big Sur XXXIII and continue to be among the very few who had run every single race. But there were nearly 30 of us in bright teal shirts at the starting line running in her honor. Teal is the color for Ovarian Cancer awareness. Our shirts, made beautifully by Custom Ink, said "I RUN FOR DONNA." Two of us were not wearing the teal shirt. My dad wore his original (from the first year) yellow original Big Sur River Run shirt and I wore my mom's. We ran in honor and in memory of Donna Schuster, an amazing and inspiring woman, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, and friend.
Thank you for making these beautiful shirts. They helped us all feel united and prompted many conversations with other race participants."
- JessicaS (Nov 05, 2013)