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Team V Unites Runners With One Goal: Victory Over Cancer

As the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon approaches, many runners are focusing on shaving a few seconds off of their mile paces. Others are focusing on finding the perfect balance of training, working to build their fitness without getting derailed by injury before they reach the start line on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

But one very special group of runners has taken a different route altogether, juggling their marathon training with the goal of helping to achieve victory over cancer. As members of the V Foundation’s Team V, Marlene Cadillo and Howard Kra are two of these extraordinary individuals.

Marlene is an Account Executive with ESPN Deportes and was born and raised in New Jersey. She joined Team V to honor her late father, Adolfo, who lost his battle with cancer when she was 34 years old. He had a strong impact on her life; she remembers him as a kind and gentle man, who had a very strong faith in God. Most importantly, Adolfo was a man of action; he lived each day of his life with purpose and was the type of man that always laughed and never wanted to cry.

“I think of him, and it makes me cry that he didn’t see the grandkids or he didn’t get a chance to walk my sister and me down the aisle,” Marlene said. “He and my mother gave themselves to us kids, and I’m so grateful because they made us believe in ourselves. Whereas, they had nothing, and yet, they didn’t see that as a hindrance and achieved many successes in their lives.”

Marlene’s father retained his optimism and faith throughout his excruciatingly painful battle with cancer, and that memory of his tenacity and love of life has stayed with her in the years since his passing. Emboldened by that spirit, her desire to help eradicate cancer and her personal mantra of “Carpe Diem,” she jumped at the chance to join Team V as soon as she learned of the opportunity.

Howard’s path to the V Foundation and Team V was completely different. A serial entrepreneur and startup consultant, his early life was dominated by a passion for baseball. An avid and talented player, his life was permanently altered when he was hit by a school bus at age 13. After being told that he would lose his leg and never walk again, Howard’s father urged him through his recovery with the very words Jim Valvano would later make his rallying cry: “Don’t Give Up!” These three words guided him throughout the long and arduous recovery. Ultimately, those months of hard work and persistence got him back on his feet, walking to school and even playing stickball again. As an adult, Howard even began running, completing the TCS New York City and Boston Marathons before turning his attention to triathlons.

As Howard’s 60th birthday approached, he found himself struggling with the recent cancer diagnoses of numerous close friends. After being serendipitously introduced to Team V, he jumped at the opportunity to use his birthday to honor his friends and raise money for cancer research. “I love it because I have a compassion for others, energy, discipline and motivation to try my best to make others be the best they can be while making this world a better place,” he said.

While Howard and Marlene have yet to meet, they have already bonded through Team V. Through his signature hard work, perseverance and connections, Howard found quick success raising money for the V Foundation, making him a perfect mentor for Marlene, who had struggled to get her fundraising off the ground. Their shared determination became the foundation of their partnership, and her fundraising has since taken off with his guidance.  She is confident and determined to not only reach, but to exceed, her fundraising goals. According to Howard, Marlene is “very receptive to suggestions. It’s not every day that someone that has accomplished so much in their life takes advice and runs with it.” Marlene sums up the mentoring experience by saying, he “motivates me, supports me and encourages me. Yes, it’s a cliché, but he really wants me to do well!”

Howard and Marlene are just two Team V members who will tackle the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon on November 5, knowing every step they take is one for the pursuit of victory over cancer.