Clean Start Team

This year, we offered 17 athletes a Clean Start by giving them entry into the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon. These individuals have overcome, or are in the midst of overcoming, setbacks that sidelined them from achieving their goals. Our Team previously found themselves on the “did not finish” list or suffered from health-related injuries. Each needed a goal to help them persevere.  These PowerBar Clean Start athletes are not only running for themselves New York, they are running for their families and their support teams.

We’re sharing the stories of our Clean Start Team so you can help cheer them on their journey. Challenges still lay ahead, including the marathon itself, but our Team proves that with hard-work, perseverance and dedication, you can achieve your goals.

Ashley Clayton New York, NY

After a sudden collapse at Hoboken Train Station, Ashley was diagnosed with a tumor in her brain. Living the next month unsure of what her future held, Ashley had to withdraw from the Washington DC Marathon. Due to a successful surgery, Ashley was finally able to run and cried the first time she hit the pavement post-surgery. Ashley is dedicating her marathon to her parents, co-workers and friends who have supported her. And most importantly, she would like to cross the finish line in the city that saved her life.

Julie Von Boston, MA

A runner in the 2013 Boston Marathon, Julie was a few hundred yards from the finish line when tragedy struck. Asked frequently by her kids when she would run another marathon, Julie was unable to get past the mental block of that day.  Julie wants to exemplify perseverance to her family, as she prepares for her first marathon since 2013. Julie is looking for a Clean Start in the city that knows the importance of resilience.

Laura Tlumack San Jose, CA

When Laura ended her soccer career, she worried that she would be unable to maintain her healthy and active lifestyle. Laura began running frequently without fueling her body with the proper nutrients. After some of her friends passed away due to health related issues, Laura snapped back and began living a healthier lifestyle and rebuilding her fitness endurance. Since the new year, she has been running more often and gaining more and more confidence.  She recently found out that her best friend’s mom is battling cancer. Laura is dedicating her run in New York to her “second mom” and shedding light on cancer awareness.

Richard Fonyi New York, NY

Army veteran Richard Fonyi was looking to complete his fifth Honolulu Marathon this past December. Unfortunately, a malignant brain tumor in addition to epilepsy and scar tissue due to a former injury on one of his many Iraq deployments, interrupted his plan. After choosing to undergo surgery and treatment in NY Presbyterian, Richard moved his family from Hawaii to New York. Once his surgery was complete, Richard told his neurosurgeon that he needed to be released so he can start training! Richard would like to finish the TCS New York City Marathon for all those that are unable to train and compete.

Gina Morgan Lexington, KY

Gina was excited and ready to sign up for her first full length marathon, the TCS New York City Marathon. She had completed several halves and was ready to embrace the challenge and for her first trip to New York.  While waiting to see if her name was drawn in the lottery, her three-year-old daughter met a life threatening illness. Her appendix had ruptured and her body was full of infection. Gina wrote her entry to the PowerBar Clean Start Contest from her daughter’s hospital room. Inspired by her daughter’s fight for a second chance at life, Gina is looking for a second chance at running the race of a lifetime.

Ed Getka Chapel Hill, NC

Due to achillies tendinosis, Ed Getka refrained from running over a mile (or two) for the last twenty years. Needing to cope with the stress of his son David’s leukemia diagnosis, Ed began to run again despite the pain. Sadly, David lost his battle with leukemia.  For Ed, running in the woods became an important way to help process his grief. Ed was in the midst of recovering from heart bypass surgery when he went to physical therapy to treat his achilles tendonosis. Ed worked incredibly hard and is proud to run the TCS New York City Marathon in honor of the memory of his son David.

Stephanie Laska San Francisco, CA

Last year, Stephanie received some bad news when her oncologist told her “You’re not going to run for a while.” She then underwent major abdominal surgery to remove her grapefruit-sized tumor. Unable to run, do yoga or weight-lift, Stephanie was more upset about not being able to exercise than fighting cancer. She had previously weighed close to 300 lbs and lost 140 lbs through running. Worried about her health and scared for her future, she lost muscle mass, endurance and speed. Despite all of this, Stephanie has maintained a positive attitude. She appreciates her ability to run post-recovery. She sees her Clean Start in New York as a gift. 

Donald Deckard Denver, CO

Retirement…Donald had always looked forward to that day but when it arrived he found myself with very mixed emotions.  He realized that he had considered retirees to be “old”, “past their prime”, “done”.  But Donald was far from being done. The solution to this misconception was to adopt a new outlook on life and view retirement as a new opportunity to pursue his passions.  Donald had always been a runner but half marathons were his self-imposed limit.  Now, with his new perspective, Donald is challenging himself with running a marathon.  He always dreamed of running a marathon and the PowerBar Clean Start Contest could made that dream a reality.  To be able to accomplish this goal, at 60, at one of the world’s greatest marathons, Donald can re-define retirement. 

Andrea Louck San Bernardino, CA

As a new mom, Andrea suffered post-partum depression and running helped her get her mental health back. She would like to represent running as a healthy alternative for women trying to be their best selves.  Andrea would like to dedicate her run in New York to women who suffer from mental health issues. She brings awareness that running is a healthy option for all women at any life stage and fitness level.

Linda Anderson Phoenix, AZ

Eight years ago, Linda suffered a brutal accident and broke her neck. The injury left her in constant pain. Due to the injury, Linda learned a lot about herself, her strength and weaknesses and her perseverance. After her surgery, she made a commitment to herself to live her life regardless of the amount of pain she was in. Running has always been her first love and she needed motivation. Linda ran the TCS New York City Marathon twenty years ago but still cherishes the memory to this day. Her goal this year is to once again run the marathon and achieve her goal.

Ivonne Maxwell Dallas, TX / Fort Worth, TX

An avid runner, Ivonne has run several half marathons and one full marathon. Having a difficult year in 2016, Ivonne lost both of her parents and her job. The stress caused her to gain 25 lbs and she lost her motivation to run. By August of last year, things started to look up with a new job and Ivonne got back into the running game. Unfortunately, after two months of running,  she broke her ankle and was once again sidelined. In order to achieve her Clean Start, Ivonne would like to complete the TCS New York City Marathon and get back on track with her running goals.

Brittany Hughes Charlotte, NC

A long-time runner, Brittany has set her sights on running a sub four hour marathon. Working hard to accomplish her goal, Brittany dedicated herself to a challenging training regiment. Not one to back away from challenges, Brittany went on a difficult seven-mile hilly run. When she stopped at a crosswalk and waited for the signal, she was hit by a turning car, knocking her to the ground and breaking her foot two weeks before her scheduled marathon. Brittany is looking to make her comeback at the TCS New York City Marathon and accomplish her longtime goal.

Tonya Fuller Denver, CO

In her 2015 attempt to qualify for Boston, Tonya had to drop out of the race at mile 19 due to IT band issues. After several months of rehab, she suffered an ankle sprain which included torn ligaments. Despite her injury, she signed up for another marathon in hopes of getting her Boston qualifying time. Unfortunately her injury prevented her from starting the race. She has spent countless hours rehabbing and is ready to make her Clean Start in the five boroughs of New York.

Joana Godinho Washington D.C.

Joana found her motivation to get in better fitness shape while at work. Joana, a journalist, was literally chasing her story. After trying to keep up with  Speaker Paul Ryan on-the-go, she realized her fitness level was not where it needed to be. She signed up for a 6:00 am bootcamp class in 2014 and while she got in better shape, her stamina had not improved. Her trainer, Corey Belin, suggested she start running fifteen minutes a day for six days.  Even though she struggled, she didn’t quit. Once she was able to run fifteen minutes comfortably, she pushed it to twenty, then twenty-five. She never imagined she would be training for a full marathon, let alone the biggest marathon in the world. PC: Marc Schron/RWB

Daniel Jacobsen Chicago, IL

Daniel is no stranger to difficult times. He is a seven-time cancer survivor and has been in remission for a little over two years. The past eleven years have been challenging to say the least, having back-to-back cancer diagnoses. Daniel kept his personal battles internal and fell into depression. He did not want to garner too much attention, which prevented him from sharing his story with his partner, his family and his charity group. He was using junk food as a way to cope and gained a significant amount of weight. Running and clean eating helped him cure this depression. This will be his sixth year of trying to get into the TCS New York City Marathon. With Daniel’s ability to endure, this will be his Clean Start.

Ana Vareschi Boston, MA

Ana spent many mornings in Manhattan and Brooklyn waking up not knowing where she was. It’s been five years since she had that lost feeling and she’s ready to return to New York clean and sober. To run in the city that almost ran her over symbolizes how far Ana has come. Running has been a big part of Ana’s recovery and the opportunity to return to NYC clean and strong would be both affirming and inspiring for Ana and others struggling with addiction.

Nicole Freeman New York, NY

The 2016 NYC Marathon was the first marathon Nicole actually trained for. She got a coach, joined a running team and became engrossed in sports psychology and physical training.  The day before the marathon she sprained her ankle.  It was swollen and hurt to put pressure on but the morning of the marathon, she decided to give it a try regardless.  She was so invested in the race, having run over 700 miles in preparation.  Nicole ended up hurting her ankle a little bit more.  She signed up for a half marathon in December to qualify for the 2017 NYC Marathon but was still injured and missed her goal. Nicole was truly disappointed and frustrated and would love the chance to run NYC again without an ankle that’s the size of a grapefruit.