This article originally appeared in The Compass Winter 2021 issue.
In early 2019, alumna Emily Walsh set out on a journey: training for the New York City Marathon.
Emily joined Fred’s Team to raise money for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in the 2019 NYC Marathon. Cancer research is something Emily holds dear to her heart, as she lost her grandfather to melanoma and her stepmother had been recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Emily’s stepmother had run in the marathon in her early 20s, and Emily knew this was something she could do to bring a small sense of happiness to both herself and her stepmother. This motivated Emily to raise $10,175 for cancer research—with half going to ovarian cancer research, in honor of her stepmother, and the other half to melanoma research, in memory of her grandfather.
Emily began training in late April 2019 for the November 3 marathon, and she followed a strict training schedule provided by Fred’s Team, where she strengthened her long-distance running abilities. She went to bed at 9:00 p.m. each night, kept a protein-packed diet, and worked hard to prepare her body for the race.
Unfortunately, a few short months after training began, Emily suffered a foot injury and had severe tendonitis in both of her ankles. After putting her all into training, she had to pause for one month and risked having to pull out of the marathon. Despite the setback, she stayed positive and used this time to focus on herself, learn how to listen to her body, and prepare to begin training again. Luckily, Emily was cleared to continue her training once her injury healed.
In order to raise money for the race, Emily utilized the power of social media. She shared her message across Instagram and Facebook and directly reached out to family and friends, in hopes that they would contribute to her goal. She used social media to update family and friends on her training and continued to draw in donations during this time.
Following Windward, Emily attended high school at Berkshire School and went on to study at Union College. She graduated in June this year with a degree in psychology.
Recounting her time at Windward, Emily shared, “People say college is the best time of your life, but I can say that Windward was the best time in my life. Not just because of how much fun I had, but what it did for me—academically, socially, everything.”
Emily had never felt so much happiness and pure joy than when she crossed the finish line and thanks Windward for helping her get there. “Windward prepared me to take on anything and feel confident doing it,” she said. “I had to overcome so much adversity throughout training. I didn’t do it just for myself, not just for my stepmother, not just for my grandfather, but to make a difference for patients and doctors.”