Monday, August 11, 2014

"Why I Run"- Welcome Guest Author Ellen Cusack

Disney’s 1/2 Marathon: 

Why I Run My Race

Meet Ellen Cusack Mother, wife, Teacher, Disney enthusiast 265:) Love Walking, country music, and believe in faith, trust, and Pixie dust! This week Ellen is here with us to share her story of why she runs. Welcome Ellen-we're so excited to have you join us!

Let me start from the beginning where running was just something I did everyday as part of my exercise routine. I was always athletic, played soccer in High School and still kept running just a few miles a day to stay in shape especially after College for I was planning a wedding and a Honeymoon in no other than Disney World.
 Fast forward to the year 1995 when I was running in a race for Breast Cancer at a local gathering in a nearby town. I was in great physical shape and running was still a part of my daily routine. I taught kindergarten, ran and was happily married to my high school sweetheart.
   The race on June 10, 1995 ( my 28th Birthday) had around a few hundred runners and I wanted to be in the top of my age group finishing. But somehow there was another plan for me. I started off the race a good pace but shortly into the first mile I experienced the most excruciating headache I had ever had, it brought me to my knees and then that was when I collapsed. I was rushed to a local hospital where they did a CT scan and determined I had a brain aneurysm, a what? I was 28 and a runner, what happened? Well after being taken to Philadelphia for the top Brain surgeon in our area, my life seemed to come to a screeching halt. Tests where done, pic lines placed and surgery set up. But, to everyone’s surprise after further testing the subarachnoid hemorrhage in my brain had sealed itself off. After a sigh of relief from my 6 siblings, parents, friends and new husband I would spend 15 days in ICU until I was able to return home.

  Home, so glad to be here but my life changed over the next 12 years, 2 children a new home to build and a future that seemed bright but running was no longer part of my routine, it was walking my babies and taking long strolls on the boardwalk contemplating my life.
  In 2007 after years of thinking and dreaming of completing a 1/2 Marathon, I decided to register for the Disney 1/2 Marathon in January 2007. I started walking everyday with my best friend Lorraine and each week added a mile or two to work up to the 13.1 we needed to complete the challenge.
Scared and a bit apprehensive, this was the first “big” race and I wasn’t sure I would be able to finish, I still had that thought of 1995 in my head and couldn’t seem to shake it.
The local newspaper came and did an article on my past experience and my Half Marathon race, this gave me the added motivation I needed to move forward and just go for it.

 So, at age 40, yes 40, you’re never too old to dream and make it come true. Lorraine, me and our families traveled from N.J. to Disney for our first runDisney race.
We went to the Expo. got our bib numbers and 1/2 Marathon shirts. We were excited to be in Disney and even more excited to be running/walking our race.
  Race day came on January 6, 2007. It was amazing, bands were playing music at 5:30 am, Mickey and Minnie were there at the start of the race and it gave me the adrenaline needed to do this thing. We started off running but soon realized there was too much to see running through the Magic Kingdom and stopping at every photo opportunity we decided a fast walk was the way to go. Excitement at every turn we were totally engulfed by the magic of Disney and that we were actually going to finish this race.

  Epcot came and so did the end of the race, the excitement grew as we past the finish line with our families waiting for us as well as Disney characters our finisher medal (Donald Duck) and tons of hugs, tears and a sense of accomplishment. We did it!
 The journey was long but the love of Disney races is in our blood now, we ran for several more years in the Disney 1/2 Marathon Weekend, Disney Princess 1/2 Marathons; each race bringing along several more first time Half Marathon Disney runners, Wine and Dine ½, a few 5k races a relay and next year, 2015, my first Enchanted 10k.
  A Fairy Tale ending, I believe so. For me it was.

Ellen M. Cusack August 10, 2014


  1. I am so excited to be here! If you take anything away from my story please know that we all have our battles in life but your Fairy Tale happy ending is waiting!!!

  2. Ellen, what a truly remarkable story, thank you for sharing!

    1. Dawn, you are too kind. I just want to maybe spark that fire, that light to let someone else shine. We all have it in us to shine!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your story with all of us! I know it will hit close to home for many out there reading it.