Gazelle Girl runners take part in virtual race

ADA, Mich. (WOOD) — The Gazelle Girl Half Marathon was supposed to take place on Sunday in downtown Grand Rapids, but that was not the case due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of not taking part at all, many are completing their races virtually.

Gazelle Girl marathon runners. (April 19, 2020)

“We just started with a thought and we made it happen,” Susie VanSkiver said.

VanSkiver who lives in Ada is the founder of the Dream Team with her husband. The group is running virtually to raise money for Make-A-Wish Michigan, which helps grant wishes to children with critical illnesses.

This cause is important to her, being that her son is a cancer survivor.

“It took our minds off of the daily horrors that we were facing when we were under treatment for leukemia with our son,” VanSkiver said.

VanSkiver is among about a dozen women, each running by themselves or with immediate family in their own neighborhoods. Participants range all the way from the Ionia area to the Lakeshore.

Ashley Sanregret works for Make-A-Wish. She says even though the women can’t run alongside each other, she’s proud of them for continuing to push through.

Gazelle Girl marathon runners. (April 19, 2020)

“To hear that it had to go virtual was honestly such a bummer, but that didn’t stop us and it definitely didn’t stop the Dream Team,” Sanregret said. “Wish kids don’t stop battling and we’re not going to stop either.”

VanSkiver is hopeful for a brighter future.

“I know that hundreds of wishes have been put on hold due to this crazy time and coronavirus and we just hope and pray that every kid gets to experience their wish,” VanSkiver said.

Make-A-Wish Michigan works to grant wishes to children with critical illnesses. If you’d like to make a donation, you can visit the foundation’s website.

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