By Sherrie Norris
Boone’s own Lisa Shelton believes that it’s every runner’s dream to run the Boston Marathon, and if that’s the case, she’s getting ready to see a dream come true.
Just weeks away from participating in what she describes as “such an elite and historic race,” Shelton is running toward the mark, literally, as she prepares for this monumental opportunity.
Shelton learned on December 18, 2018 that she had been selected, along with nine other runners, to represent Team V at the Boston Marathon, running in honor of her brother-in-law, Christopher, who continues to fight the battle against cancer, and in memory of others, including her mother-in-law, Ann Shelton who died in January, 1976 from lung cancer.
A runner for the last 40 years, Shelton explains why this is so important to her at this time in her life. “As I found myself reflecting back on my running recently, I came to the realization that running had given me so many gifts over the years, but more importantly, it had also taught me that to move forward, you have to give back.”
With that awareness and understanding, Shelton decided to give Boston a try, while raising money for cancer research.
“That is where my brother-in-law and the Jimmy V Foundation come into play,” she explained. “My brother-in-law, Christopher, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2015, which is a type of blood cancer. I knew that I wanted to run to honor him and all those who have been or will be affected by this devastating disease. I knew that the Jimmy V Foundation was a charity partner of the Boston Marathon, so I decided to throw my name in the hat to see what would happen. The Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research has one goal in mind and that is to achieve victory over cancer; they are also one of the premier supporters of cutting-edge research funds. As we all know, more funding means more research, and more research means more lives saved and hopefully one day a cure for cancer.”
And even though she never had the opportunity to meet her mother-in-;aw, Shelton said, “She gave me the gift of her son Dan for which I will always be grateful.”
Shelton started running, initially, as a way to try to stay in shape, she said, but admitted that as she has gotten older, it has evolved into something much more.
“While I will admit that I am trying to outrun this aging thing with everything that I have, running continues to give me the opportunity to be reflective and thankful when I find myself feeling stressed or discouraged,” she explained. “It reminds me to keep putting one foot in front of the other no matter how hard things get. It reminds me that you are never too old to chase your dreams — and that if you believe you can do something, that’s half the battle. It has also taught me that it is important to give back and to focus on something that is bigger than yourself.”
The Boston Marathon will be Shelton’s ninth marathon overall and her seventh marathon in the past six years. But, the “big one” Shelton told us, is not something that just happens. “There are only two ways that a runner can get into the Boston Marathon,” she explained. “The first way is to meet pretty tough qualifying times based on age and gender and the other is through participating in a charity program, which I am doing.”
As part of Team V, she has committed to raise $6,000 for the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research, indicating that her fundraising efforts run hand-in-hand with her 16-week training program.
The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded by ESPN and legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano. Since its formation in 1993, the V Foundation has awarded over $225 million in cancer research grants nationwide.
“I am currently training through the Virtual Training Program with the New York Road Runners,” she said, which offers a training plan specifically designed for the Boston Marathon and is tailored specifically to her running skills.
Shelton is also a member of the NYRR Virtual Training Alumni Group, through which she been able to connect with runners from all over the world who share her same passion for running.
“Through this group, we are able to share our running successes and our running challenges and everything in between,” she said. “Besides my family, my running group has been one of my biggest supporters for Boston, both financially supporting the V Foundation and from a motivational standpoint. They get it! They get Boston! They support fundraising! They understand the commitment and dedication it takes to train and to run a marathon.”
Some days, Shelton said, she’s up at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday to run for two-three hours either outside, weather permitting, or on a treadmill. “Other days, it is squeezing in a run after a full day of work. A marathon is literally hundreds of miles of training. When I am finished with this training plan, I will have logged 439 miles — the Boston Marathon being the last 26.2 miles.”
Without a doubt, Shelton said her family is her main support system. “Without them, none of this would be possible.”
She recalls when she first started exploring the possibility of running the Boston Marathon, and fundraising for the Jimmy V Foundation, her family seemed a little concerned about the fundraising commitment. “My husband (Dan) and our oldest son (Walker), who is a financial planner, were supportive but cautious and wanted me to go into this with realistic expectations, and I agreed.” With basically only three months to raise $6,000, she admits to being hesitant.
“However, our youngest son (Christopher) gave me the courage to take the leap of faith and go for it,” she shared. “If I was unable to raise the money, he said he would cover anything I couldn’t raise up to the full amount — as a way to thank me (and his Dad) for always being there for him.”
Shelton calls that, “a proud Mom moment to say the least, and a gesture that I will carry in my heart forever. I knew then that I could not and would not fail.”
Perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle for Shelton, she said, is her brother-in-law Christopher, “who graciously allowed me to tell his story, because his story is your story or the story of someone you know who has been impacted by cancer.”
Shelton points out that most of us have been touched by this disease in some form or fashion. “And, I think that it is important to remember that we are all in this together — and together, we can make a difference.”
Christopher is currently in remission, she said, “As much as multiple myeloma can go into remission, as it is a treatable, but not curable form of cancer — yet.”
Shelton offers special acknowledgment to her brother, Peter (Christopher’s partner), who has worked so hard to help her reach her fundraising goal, “and then some!”
A Greensboro native, Shelton is one of five children who, with her husband Dan, has lived in Boone for 35 years, where they raised their two sons. A licensed clinical social worker, she has worked for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System for 34 years and is currently the director of the Employee Assistance Program, a counseling program for staff and their families.
Anyone interested in making a contribution to Shelton’s efforts may do so through her secure personal Team V fundraising page at: