Mother-daughter duo make fundraising a family affair with the Massey Challenge
Many of us find getting motivated to go to the gym challenging enough, but add in convincing a nine-year-old to wake up early to go with you, and you typically have a recipe for disaster or, at the very least, a tense household. Kathy Galloway and daughter Izzy Selberis, however, mastered the task last year while training for the 2018 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k and coinciding Virginia529 Kids Run. Held every spring, the event attracts tens of thousands of runners and walkers and serves as a platform for the Massey Challenge, an initiative that encourages participants to raise money to support the locally conducted, lifesaving cancer research at VCU Massey Cancer Center.
While Galloway and Selberis may never have considered themselves runners before, when they heard from a family friend that they could make their miles matter at the 10k by supporting Massey, they couldn’t resist signing up. Cancer, after all, had just hit close to home.
Shortly before they registered for the race and the Massey Challenge, Galloway’s cousin, Fred Glidewell, was diagnosed with a stage four Pancoast tumor that was rapidly growing around his clavicle and spine. Watching from the sidelines, Galloway felt helpless. Pancoast tumors form in the lungs and can spread to nearby tissues as well as the vertebrae, and, as it was in Glidewell’s case, put patients at risk for paralysis.
With the potential of serious and even life-threatening complications on the horizon, Glidewell began pursuing an intense course of treatment at VCU Massey Cancer Center. Glidewell, whose wife had recently passed away and who was now a single father of four, remained optimistic throughout treatment, which included radiation, chemotherapy and surgery to reconstruct a section of his spine that had been damaged by the tumor. Unfortunately, after his initial rounds of treatment, his clinical team had to deliver more bad news. They found another tumor on his optic nerve, and they informed Glidewell that he should put his affairs in order before undergoing his next surgery.
“He had no interest in hearing about the statistics or prognosis involved with his procedure,” Galloway remembers. “He planned on proving everyone wrong. He said, ‘I don’t have time for this; I have girls to raise.’”
Inspired by Glidewell’s commitment to weather through aggressive treatments with a positive and determined attitude, the mother-daughter duo knew they had to do something to demonstrate their support for him, and accepting the Massey Challenge was the perfect opportunity.
They set a goal to raise $500 for cancer research through the Massey Challenge, and they started reaching out to their networks to ask for donations. The support they received was just the spark they and Glidewell needed to remain hopeful. Galloway, a nurse with VCU Health, was overwhelmed and touched by the outpouring of generosity from her colleagues, and Selberis’s fourth-grade classmates cheered her on in her efforts in both fundraising and training for the race.
“We started checking our Massey Challenge page every day, and so did Fred,” said Galloway. “The donations started coming in so quickly. We shared our fundraising page on Facebook, and it just had a snowball effect.”
Channeling their excitement into their race preparations, they stuck with their training plan in the weeks and days leading up to the event. There were even moments when young Selberis was the one to push the two of them out the door to complete their workouts. And if their motivation did begin to wane, or they felt tempted to skip a run or a walk, they’d simply think of Glidewell and his unwavering humor and love of life. They knew they had to stay focused on their goal, just like he did.
As the big day came closer, the pair tried to tackle their pre-race nerves, knowing the finish lines of the 10k, Kids Run and their fundraising goal were in sight. With reassurance from colleagues and classmates, they knew they could do it.
“I think it’s exceptional for a child to stand up and say, ‘I want people with cancer to be better! I want their lives to be better!’” Galloway proudly observed as her daughter remarked that her favorite part of the experience was the suspense of whether or not they’d reach their fundraising goal.
Crossing the finish line was pretty great too, and having a very special person waiting for them at the end made for a day they’ll never forget. Glidewell, although weak and in a wheelchair, was so overwhelmed with gratitude and moved by his family’s hard work that he was determined to be with them to celebrate. And celebrate they did. Galloway and Selberis exceeded their fundraising goal by more than $200, and, in even better news, Glidewell soon learned he was on the road to regaining to his health.
A year after they first decided to participate in the race and fundraise with the Massey Challenge, Glidewell is still recovering from treatment and getting back to a new norm. His positive outcome, however, doesn’t mean that Selberis and her mom are done with their work in advancing cancer research. They know several people who are facing difficult diagnoses, and they hope to make the Massey Challenge an annual tradition. They are already recruiting their friends to join their team for the 2019 10k.
“Everybody knows somebody,” Galloway reflects. “But I never want cancer to be one of those things people get used to hearing about. And even if you don’t have a dollar to give, but you’re willing to sweat a little for the cause, then you’re appreciated.”
You can support Massey's lifesaving cancer research by fundraising through the Massey Challenge. Visit masseychallenge.com to set up your own fundraising team or to join or donate to an existing team. Please note that proceeds from your Monument Avenue 10k and/or Kids Run race registration do not benefit Massey. To register for the race, please visit sportsbackers.org.