Cleveland Marathon 2023 — Sarah Chokan, a young woman who experienced a stroke at the age of 22, has been living with the lasting effects on the right side of her body. Due to the stroke, she is unable to feel the right side of her body unless she visually focuses on it. Sarah, an avid runner, faces challenges while enjoying her runs, as she must hold her phone in her left hand to prevent dropping it unknowingly. The stroke left her with tingling sensations in her face, leading to difficulty speaking and the diagnosis of an Arteriovenous Malformation, which caused brain bleeding. Sarah had to undergo extensive rehabilitation to regain her ability to walk and talk.
Recalling her initial experiences at the emergency room, Sarah shares the difficulties she faced in articulating her personal information, such as her last name and birthday. As a right-handed individual, she was required to adapt to using her left hand for various tasks. Initially, she believed that running would no longer be a part of her life. However, through determination and perseverance, Sarah has once again started participating in half-marathons. Despite the challenges she faces, Sarah has learned to keep the risk of injury in mind while running, as she may not be able to perceive potential harm to her right side.
Sarah’s father, Jeffrey Willmann, is no stranger to battling adversity himself. In 2016, he was diagnosed with Esophageal cancer and given a life expectancy of less than a year. Refusing to accept such a grim prognosis, Jeffrey sought alternative medical opinions and underwent chemotherapy, which resulted in the cancer going into remission. Although he faced multiple relapses, there came a point when both Jeffrey and his daughter Sarah found themselves in the hospital simultaneously.
Jeffrey reflects on the immense challenges of battling cancer, but he admits that witnessing his own child endure the same struggles was even more difficult. Despite their individual health battles, both father and daughter managed to triumph over their circumstances. Jeffrey defied the odds and had the honor of walking Sarah down the aisle on her wedding day, despite initial concerns that his cancer might prevent his attendance.
Now, the resilient duo is preparing to participate in the Cleveland Marathon, a tradition they have established to commemorate their progress. Sarah emphasizes the importance of not allowing daunting odds to hinder one’s progress, urging others to persist even in the face of adversity. Her father, Jeffrey, echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the need to cherish each day and never take anything for granted.
Joining Sarah and Jeffrey in this year’s marathon is Sarah’s mother, Laurie Willmann. Inspired by her husband and daughter’s resilience, Laurie has decided to participate, viewing it as an opportunity to celebrate their strength and endurance. She draws inspiration from their unwavering determination and believes that if they can overcome their hardships, she can conquer the challenges of the marathon.
In conclusion, Sarah Chokan and her father, Jeffrey Willmann, have faced numerous challenges on their respective health journeys. Sarah’s stroke at a young age left her with lasting effects on the right side of her body, yet she has defied the odds by resuming her passion for running. Jeffrey’s battle with Esophageal cancer was met with multiple relapses, but he persevered and was able to walk his daughter down the aisle. Together, they continue to inspire others with their resilience and determination. As they prepare to participate in the Cleveland Marathon 2023 Spots to Watch, their stories serve as a reminder that anything is possible with perseverance and an unwavering spirit.