Former patients run marathon to help St. Jude

By Joe Birch - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - You may find yourself stuck in traffic Saturday as the St. Jude Memphis Marathon winds through Downtown and Midtown.

If you get hot under the collar in a marathon traffic snarl, there are a few things to remember that might help you to chill out.

Why do thousands of people run 13.1 miles in the half marathon or twice that far in the full St. Jude Memphis Marathon?

Indiana Soliama and Roman Ziegler know the answer.

"I have been in remission for 14 years; thank the Lord," Soliama said.

Roman and Indiana are members of Danny's Dream Team, ten patients on the road to recovery, running Saturday thanks to St. Jude.

"We're from five different countries, we've had six different diagnoses and we've had a patient from the '80s all the way to the present," said Gabriella Salinas.

Salinas arrived in Memphis on a stretcher in 1996. Originally from Bolivia, Salinas was diagnosed with cancer, but a New York hospital refused to treat her because her family couldn't pay her medical bills.

Marlo Thomas found out about her story and now, thanks to St. Jude, Gabby is a two time cancer survivor.

Gabby graduated from college in May and now works as a tech in a St. Jude lab, seeking new drugs to fight cancer.

"I thought 'Who inspires me to train hard and fundraise,'" she said. "I thought of St. Jude patients. So, I brought all my friends together and their friends and we created Danny's Dream Team."

"Here I am. Clearly, it all worked out perfectly," said Indiana Soliama. "I owe a lot to St. Jude and me going into the whole medical field is part of me giving back to them in a way."

Indiana celebrates her 21st birthday on Saturday. She's a pre-med major and hopes to use her experience to one day help youngsters like Roman, who's also running Saturday.

Danny's Dream team will join thousands of other St. Jude Heroes and don purple shirts featuring St. Jude's praying child logo, as they help St. Jude raise $3 million and counting on marathon Saturday.

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