Gretchen Schoenstein

2 Halfs 2 Coasts 2 Days

Fundraising for Virginia Mason Health System
raised of US$20,000 target
by 105 supporters
2 Halfs 2 Days 2 Coasts, 17 March 2024
Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) is a world-renowned nonprofit committed to finding causes and cures for immune system diseases. These diseases include type 1 diabetes, RA, lupus, MS, and Crohn's as well as allergies, and asthma.


2 Halfs, 2 Days, 2 Coasts

Please support BRI with a donation as I run *two half-marathons in 24 hours* this March to fight autoimmune disease and power groundbreaking research! Why? Read on...

In 2006, I was in serious pain and unable to walk. That’s when I was diagnosed with my third autoimmune disease, sarcoidosis. It happens when the immune system gets confused and starts attacking the lungs and joints as if they were harmful germs. There is no cure, so like Hashimoto's and other AI issues, I’d live with it for the rest of my life. The doctors said I’d never run again.

Lying in that hospital bed, I never would have believed that I would go on to run 120 half marathons and counting. I ran my first in 2010 and ultimately set a goal: 100 half marathons in 10 years. I've always wanted this to be bigger than myself and have made it my mission to raise awareness and funds for autoimmune disease research. I did big fundraisers for races #50 and #75. Then the pandemic hit.

My dream, deferred. I stopped running for months. But I got there eventually, crossing finish line #100 at the end of 2021. Then, the world was still reeling from COVID. It didn’t feel like the right time for a big fundraiser. Now it does.

The idea came in the middle of the night: Two half marathons, two days, two coasts. I’ll run the Rock 'n' Roll Half in Washington, D.C. on Saturday March 16, then fly to Portland, Oregon that night and run in the Shamrock Half Sunday, March 17. March is the perfect time as it's Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month. And Benaroya Research Institute (BRI) is the perfect beneficiary.

I’ve been battling autoimmune diseases since I was nine. I’ve dealt with pain and symptoms for years before getting a diagnosis. I’ve lived with the weight of a lifelong disease and no cure, and treatments for symptoms, but not the root cause. It's lonely. Sometimes you feel invisible. But when I walked into a BRI luncheon ten years ago, I finally felt seen. I felt like I was part of something, like my experience mattered, and that they were doing everything they could to make life better for people with these diseases.

Autoimmune diseases happen when the immune system starts attacking something it shouldn’t: the joints in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the brain in multiple sclerosis (MS), the thyroid in Hashimoto’s disease. BRI doesn’t study these diseases one by one. Rather, they study the entire immune system, working to understand exactly what goes wrong and how to make it right. That’s why I believe that if anyone can find a cure, it’s BRI — not just for one autoimmune disease, but for all of them. I humbly ask you to join me in supporting them.

I run every race with the ghost of these diseases — the pain, the flare ups, the days in bed. I run for the more than 22 million Americans — 80 percent of them women — living with autoimmune diseases. I run because I know there will be a day when I can’t do this, but today is not that day.

Every step is a gift, every mile an accomplishment and every finish line a victory.

Every day, BRI is taking steps toward understanding these devastating diseases. They’re making milestone discoveries. And they will be the ones to cross that finish line and take the victory of finding a cure.

Please join me in supporting the scientists who are racing to advance medicine for all of us. Help me raise $20,000. Give to support your friend, your family member or someone in your community who lives with a disease that affects every part of their life. Your tax-deductable contributions are a catalyst for life-changing discoveries. Thank you.

About BRI

Benaroya Research Institute (BRI) has a bold mission: To predict, prevent, reverse and cure immune system diseases.

From autoimmune disease, to cancer to COVID-19, we study diseases that impact the immune system. We examine the immune system as a whole — in health and disease — aiming to understand how these disorders start and how to rebalance the immune system back to health.

Equipped with innovative tools and robust biorepositories, our team chips away at some of the biggest mysteries behind these conditions every day, working toward our vision: A healthy immune system for everyone. As a non-profit organization within Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, we collaborate with clinicians to accelerate the path from innovative lab discoveries to life-changing patient care.

To learn more, visit and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, LinkedIn, X and YouTube.

About the campaign

Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) is a world-renowned nonprofit committed to finding causes and cures for immune system diseases. These diseases include type 1 diabetes, RA, lupus, MS, and Crohn's as well as allergies, and asthma.

About the charity

The Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Foundation enhances philanthropic support for extraordinary patient care at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.

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