by Christina Grierson
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy alumna Avery Nunn has dedicated her summer to running across America in an effort to both raise awareness about cancer and raise money to help those affected by the disease. Through a Facebook advertisement, Nunn was introduced to the Ulman Cancer Fund’s 4K For Cancer and upon further research, she decided to sign up and begin the 49-day, more than 4,500-mile journey.
As many of the other participants of the run, Nunn’s family has been personally affected by cancer. Nunn’s Aunt Lynn lost her battle with breast cancer. Lynn, along with the countless other people affected by cancer all motivated Nunn to join the 4K and make a difference.
Nunn’s mother Schuyler Nunn will be familiar to readers. She owned Indigo Schuy, a Germantown Avenue shop that specialized in running gear, and currently works for local fitness center Balance Chestnut Hill.
The younger Nunn will be entering her senior year at Lafayette College in the Fall where she runs Division I track and field and cross-country. Her athletic background aided in the preparation for her summer-long trek to the east coast. To further groom herself, Nunn added additional mileage on to her regularly scheduled practices.
“I knew that mentally this trip would be quite taxing, so for the spring I just tried to focus on staying very healthy with my running and in food intake in addition to getting rest,” she said.
Because there is little room for anything other than the bare necessities while she makes her way east, packing was the least of her worries. She found that one of the most challenging things prior to the run was making sure she got enough rest.
“I was nervous about getting injured during the upcoming months prior to 4K, so I tried really hard to be strict with my amount of sleep and not letting myself go over the top with my running, which is hard for me,” Nunn said.
She also experienced initial challenges with fundraising. She set a goal to raise the most money out of all the runners for the 4K and has thus far succeeded. Nunn has raised more that $12,000 so far of her $16,000 goal.
Nunn is a part of Team Boston in the 4K. They began their run on June 18 in San Francisco and they plan to reach Boston, their finish line, by August 4. Before starting, Nunn was not familiar with any of her teammates. But, after meeting and sharing their stories with one another, the team of strangers quickly morphed into a family with similar experiences and shared goals. They realized how much they all had in common, helping them to quickly form a bond.
“You know someone is truly special when they make the world a better place just by simply being themselves, and that’s exactly how everyone on this team is,” Nunn said. “Needless to say my expectations were exceeded.”
On average, Nunn runs 20 miles a day, beginning at 4:30 in the morning. Every morning before the continuation of the run, Nunn and her team congregate in “dedication circles” to share a short story related to someone who was affected by cancer. They then take turns around a circle saying whom they are specifically running for on that day.
“We always have the name of the person we are running for written on our calves and wrists before 5a.m.,” she said. “It’s a beautiful reminder that as soon as we wake up we can recognize that although there’s a big day ahead of us, we are running for something even bigger.”
As a part of the run, the teams also have service days set aside along their various stops, some of which are spent at the Ronald McDonald homes across the U.S. Ronald McDonald House is an international charity that provides aid to ill children and their families.
There, Nunn and her team offer their services wherever needed and spend time with the patients who currently live there. When there is time to spare, she is sure to take time to appreciate some of the country’s most glorious sites that are along the way to Boston, visiting places like the Jackson Hole in Wyoming.
Nunn described how doing this run opened her eyes to the little things she used to take for granted, including the days where she experiences little to no physical problems while running. She described how physically demanding and emotionally draining this journey is, but remembering why she signed up helps her to push forward. She also credits the support from her family, friends and the many gracious strangers she encountered in both the busy cities and small towns across the countless states she has run through for continuing to inspire her to complete the run.
“I have been a lot more emotional on this trip than I thought I would be. I thought it would be mostly about the running, and you’d almost think it would be the most important aspect when running across the country — but it has really been much more about our impact on the world and each other as a team,” Nunn said.
Through her successful fundraising and upcoming completion of the run, Nunn hopes to inspire others to push themselves to greater limits and see how much they truly are capable of achieving.
“There were a few moments early on in the year where I had cold feet about starting the run and wasn’t sure if it would necessarily be the smartest move for me, but quickly realized that it would be a greater injustice not to do the run,” Nunn said.
She runs to show those who have been affected by cancer that no challenge is too great to conquer and that there are people ready and willing to fight for their future even if they aren’t able to. Throughout her experience so far, her driving force for wanting to complete the run became not just for those close to her, but for all people who have been affected by the disease.
Christina Grierson is a Local intern.