Pioneer Sophomore Runs Chicago Marathon in Support of Diabetes

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Pioneer Sophomore Runs Chicago Marathon in Support of Diabetes

Burgard celebrates her accomplishment as she crosses the finish line.

Burgard celebrates her accomplishment as she crosses the finish line.

Burgard celebrates her accomplishment as she crosses the finish line.

Burgard celebrates her accomplishment as she crosses the finish line.

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When Morgan Burgard, sophomore at Pioneer High School, saw the finish line of the Chicago Marathon, she felt unstoppable. Even though she is a long time runner, Burgard wasn’t sure if she would finish the 26.2 mile run. However, with the support of family and friends, the inspiration of her recently deceased aunt, and her goal of helping the cause of diabetes, Burgard fought hard and achieved her goal. “I felt like I had done the best that I could do … and this feeling of glory rushed through my legs and took me sprinting to that little line,” said Burgard of seeing the finish line. As a fifteen year old, along side 45,000 other runners, Burgard conquered the 26.2 mile beast.

Because Burgard has been living with diabetes since she was diagnosed in 6th grade, the illness is a cause very close to her heart. Burgard not only ran the marathon for herself, but also for the millions of people fighting diabetes. “I am a diabetic, so I know what it’s like to have the low blood sugars, to have the high blood sugars; I know what it’s like to be frustrated during school and you can’t do anything about it…I don’t want kids in the future to go through that, cause it’s not fair to them, its really not,” said Burgard.

Burgard works hard to keep running.

Burgard ran the marathon through an organization called Cell Mates. The organization is a project aimed at finding a cure for diabetes. Burgard got family and friends to sponsor her and to donate money for the diabetes cause. “People were really supportive,” said Burgard, “I got so much from so many people and it touched me that they cared so much.” She has done other fundraising in the past and intends to do more in the future. “In however many years, before they find the cure, I’ll know that I did a…part to help out. And just to know that I can help the kids in the future not have to go through this pain and struggle for their whole life… is something that touches me,” said Burgard.

The week before the marathon Burgard’s blood sugar levels were all over the place. Amazingly, they were perfect and completely manageable the day of the race. She had the slight fear that she would have to stop running because of low blood sugar. However, she didn’t have to stop once. “It was honestly the first time ever since I became diabetic where I didn’t feel like a diabetic. I felt like I was cured during those five hours,” said Burgard.

The first time Burgard discovered her passion and talent for running was in the fifth grade. Her class was running the mile for the Presidential Fitness Test, and she finished in first place. “My gym teacher told me I had potential as a runner,” recalled Burgard. Burgard then started running on the school cross country team in sixth grade, and continued through her freshman year of high school. Running for the Pioneer Varsity Cross Country Team as a freshman was the most competitive running Burgard had ever participated in.

Although runners are advised to train for 18 weeks before a marathon, Burgard only trained for five. Because it’s club soccer season, playing soccer was a large part of her training. She would play the entire game to try and build up endurance. “My coach was very supportive and helped me out a lot,” said Burgard. In addition she went on long runs and followed a training schedule she got off the Internet, shown to her by a fellow marathon runner. The only “hardcore” training she did was a 14 or 15 mile run with her mom. This was the longest she had ever run and she was not prepared for it. “I honestly felt like I was going to throw up. My joints were not prepared for that. My mind was not ready for running three hours straight. That was an experience, but I’m glad my mom was with me, cause I definitely would not have been able to do it without her,” said Burgard of her very supportive mother.

Not only did her mom run with her during her training, but she also ran the marathon right next to her daughter. “I ran the majority of it with my mom,” explained Burgard, “But after awhile I was just like, ‘Alright mom, I’m gonna go now.’” However, Burgard was extremely happy her mom was there with her. “Without my mom there I definitely wouldn’t have finished,” said Burgard.

A huge part of Burgard’s motivation came from her inspirational aunt, who passed away from cancer. “She was just honestly the most

Burgard celebrates her accomplishment as she crosses the finish line.

inspirational person I have ever met, hands down,” said Burgard. Theresa Burgard was a teacher for children with disabilities, a track and cross country coach for around 30 years, a marathon runner, and Burgard’s hero. Burgard described how her aunt’s inspiration and passion for running played a vital role in helping her achieve her goal. “For me, just running and thinking of her, having her right next to me, just really, really helped…I couldn’t have done it myself. She was definitely there to push me along, and those last three miles, when it’s really easy to give up, it just wasn’t an option,” she said.

As Theresa Burgard was an inspiration for Burgard, Burgard is following in her aunt’s

footsteps, inspiring others. When Burgard returned home, her friends were amazed by her accomplishment. “My friend came up to me…and was like ‘You’ve inspired me…to go above my limits,’” said Burgard. Burgard and some of her friends want to rent a van for next year’s marathon. They plan to drive to Chicago to run the race together. “It’s something that is truly life changing and they want…to have that sense of accomplishment,” she said. Burgard has faith that they can do it.

As for the marathon she has already accomplished, emotions ran high when Burgard crossed the finish line. “I cried. I couldn’t stop crying. I had a T-shirt with my aunt’s name on it. It was just truly an amazing feeling, and you just cross the finish line and…your so happy to be alive.”

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