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Half a Country Apart, Leeuw Runs for Her Brother

Allison Leeuw running in the 2011 Chicago Marathon.

Allison Leeuw running in the 2011 Chicago Marathon.

By: Michael Izzo

Name: Allison Leeuw
Age: 33
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
Occupation: Eligibility Company Manager
Team Reeve Event: 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon

At the time you are reading this, Chris Leeuw, 28, is rehabbing in South Jordan, Utah, over 1,500 miles away from his sister, Allison Leeuw, 33, who is in their hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. Chris is at the Neuroworx facility, a Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) Community Fitness and Wellness facility, after an accident in August 2010 left him living with an incomplete C4, C5 spinal cord injury.

The NRN Community Fitness and Wellness facilities are focused on incorporating locomotor training on a treadmill and over ground, electrical stimulation with cycling, cardiovascular exercise and strength training into a complete fitness and wellness program.

"He's had an amazing recovery so far and we hope it continues," says Allison.

Helping from home
Since Chris left for Utah, Allison has been working hard as well. This October, she will run the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon for her brother. "I still fly out monthly to see how he's doing and to help out," explains Allison. "But back in Indianapolis, I had to figure out what else I could do to help."

Her fundraising goal is simple: $2,620. That's equal to 100 friends, family members, and co-workers donating $1 per mile.

A lot of work ahead
To Allison, training presents the real challenge. She set a goal of five hours, which she says is a conservative number. "I have a lot of miles to put in," admits Allison, "but any time my alarm goes off in the morning, or I'm in the middle of a long run, I just think of the people who really know true exhaustion and true pain that have gone through these injuries. It doesn't compare."

Always a runner, coming from an athletic and outdoorsy family, this will be Allison's first full running marathon, though she has completed half marathons and a walking marathon before. To prepare, she is joining a local running group that includes other people running in Chicago.

While there is a lot of work left to be done with Chris, Allison acknowledges how far he's come, and says she is grateful for the assistance Chris and their family has gotten in the last year. "We know we've been blessed in his recovery so far," says Allison. "Chris has made progress. If it wasn't for the NeruroRecovery Network, places like Neruroworx, I don't know what we would have done. So many people don't have that sort of support."

Look for Allison Leeuw and the rest of Team Reeve in the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 9th.

Team Reeve hopes to raise money to help and assist more people like Chris. To make a donation for Allison's run, go here.

Learn more
Inspired by Allison's story? Want to join Team Reeve? You don't have to be an athlete to become a member. Click here
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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders