Transcending the personal benefits of running, an instructor of fitness and lifetime sports is entering this year’s New York City Marathon to bring attention to a debilitating neurological condition.
Emily B. Miller, a faculty member in the School of Health Sciences and a 2002 graduate of Penn College’s physical fitness specialist major, is running the Nov. 2 race as a fundraiser for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation in honor of a friend’s father. Dystonia is a neurological disorder that causes muscles to contract and spasm involuntarily, creating twisting movements and abnormal postures and making movement difficult.
“After hearing the debilitating physical effects from the flare-ups her father was suffering, I just couldn’t imagine how physically, emotionally and mentally taxing this disease is on the body,” Miller said of her inspiration. “When my friend asked me if I would like to run in honor of her father and for the Dystonia Foundation, without hesitation I said, ‘Yes!’
“I know the physical pain and exhaustion that comes from training for distance events is short-lived, but the effects from Dystonia are lifelong struggles until more research can be conducted to help find a cure.”
Miller is training 30 to 40 miles a week for the marathon, which will be her second in as many years. (She entered the Steamtown Marathon in 2013, finishing 918 out of 2,157 runners – and in less than four hours.) Her purposeful love of the sport dovetails with a “special topics” course in fitness running to be offered at the college this fall, helping students develop a personal program while preparing them to complete a 5K run.
From her experience in Scranton last year, Miller is aware of the physical and mental demands of running 26-plus miles – especially the perseverance needed from the 20-mile mark onward. Still, she said, “this is a cause worth running 100 miles for.”
To meet her $2,500 goal for the race, Miller is accepting contributions online and via cell phone. Interested donors can visit her Dystonia Foundation pledge page or text “RUN EMILY” to 90999.