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Physical Fitness Instructor/Alum Running NYC Marathon for Charity

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. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Miller finished the race in 4:04:25.)

Emily B. Miller, at the Oct. 13 Steamtown Marathon
Emily B. Miller, at the Oct. 13 Steamtown Marathon

“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 cellphone. Interested donors can visit her Dystonia Foundation pledge page or text “RUN EMILY” to 90999.

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