Jean Korsnack always had the idea of running a marathon some day.
The Bowling Green mom and active volunteer has been a regular runner for about 17 years, but had never seriously tackled the kind of training it would take to prepare for a 26.2 mile run.
“That all changed for me on the morning of April 26” after friend and neighbor Cheryl Windisch called “and shared the news that her husband, Paul, had been diagnosed with Extended Small Cell Lung Cancer.” In referring to her husband’s diagnosis, Windisch said simply, “it’s not the kind you want to get.”
Korsnack initially felt helpless, wishing in vain that she could change things for her dear friends.
“Paul’s been like a surrogate grandpa to my daughter.”
She also, naturally, began to wonder what she would be feeling if she had just received the same diagnosis.
“My list of ‘wanted tos’ and ‘thought abouts’ began piling up.” Near the top of that list was her longtime goal of running a marathon.
“The next day I began testing my body to see if it was a real possibility.”
There was one time in Korsnack’s entire life that she ran 10 miles on a single night “just because it felt good. That was many years ago. Otherwise, six miles is the longest I’ve run and, in more recent years, four miles, three or four times a week.”
That was when Korsnack came up with a plan to combine her marathon goal with a chance to raise funds for lung cancer research and treatment in Paul Windisch’s honor.
For the past five and a half months, she has been extending herself to the limit, physically, even as she solicits the help of friends and strangers to raise funds for what she considers the worthiest of causes.
“I run around Bowling Green. I use a Web site called mapmyrun.com to get my distances.
“My 8-year-old daughter Cate has been my little drill sergeant,” encouraging mom to hit the pavement on mornings when she hasn’t felt like running.
Korsnack is signed up to run in the Nationwide Better Health Columbus Marathon, and D-Day is this Sunday.
“I’m feeling very confident and determined and emotional, the closer I get.”
Traveling to Columbus to cheer her on will be her husband, daughter and sister, as well as a niece who is a student at Ohio State.
And, if all goes well, the Windisches themselves will be waiting near the finish line. They are also expecting a new grandchild any day, so fate will play a hand in determining if they can make it to Columbus.
To date, Korsnack’s efforts for the National Lung Cancer Partnership have raised more than $6,000, as friends, neighbors and strangers visit the Web site she has created at www.firstgiving.com/jeankorsnack to read updates about her progress and to make a pledge.
“I started by sending it to 35 or 40 people,” asking each of them to forward the e-mail to three more people.
“Many people are unaware that lung cancer is one of the most under-funded cancers,” Korsnack pointed out. “Therefore, I have set my goal high.”
She has been touched by the huge response, and so have the Windisches.
“What a gift to see what people are saying” in encouraging messages to Paul that they post along with their pledges.
“I have been overwhelmed to this point by the generosity of so many people, and it just speaks so highly of Paul Windisch and what his service has been to this community, how much people think of him.”
Windisch, well known in Bowling Green banking circles for many years, retired from First Federal and previously worked at Bowling Green State University. He continues to be an avid supporter of the Falcons and their sports teams. His ties to the city, in general, “are wide and deep,” Korsnack pointed out.
Contributions to the Web site in Windisch’s honor will continue to be accepted after Sunday.
As for Windisch himself, “I’m doing great!”
And Korsnack believes the word to live by is the one the oncologist used to describe his progress: “phenomenal.”
“This word is my inspiration” and why she will be wearing a “P” on her shirt on run day — “P for Paul and P for phenomenal!”
Photo captions: Story photo: Jean Korsnack (center), is preparing to run a marathon to benefit Paul Windisch, who has cancer, while Paul’s wife, Cheryl, looks on. (Aaron Carpenter/Sentinel-Tribune)