When the going got tough, these women kept running.
When I was a senior in college, I was the RA for a dorm of students. Because of my ability to become friends with the troublemakers, the floor remained calm and friendly. Then one day, everything on that floor changed. Blaine Steinberg, a girl who lived just two doors down from me, passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She was just 20 years old, a star lacrosse player, and known on campus for caring deeply for those around her.
That year, I was also a trip leader on our Dartmouth orientation trips. One of the freshmen Summer and I became particularly close—especially after the first day on campus, when I drove her to her routine cancer scans, which came back positive. I remember running from RA training to her dorm to find her crying (the only time I saw her cry), but not for the reason you would expect. “Anoush, I need to take three classes, have a normal semester, and play soccer.” To Summer, cancer was only an inconvenience to all the important things in life she had to get done. Summer fought many battles with cancer and chemo—but more importantly, she fought the battle to do everything a normal student would do with her family and friends. She lost her battle to cancer this past July.
Right after Blaine had passed away, her family started the Live Like Blaine Foundation in her honor. To me, this organization stood for everything that I stood for as a female athlete and leader on campus. LLB supports a variety of organizations, all with the purpose of empowering women leaders through athletics. Summer also supported LLB, wearing a “Live Like Blaine” bracelet every single day.
To me, running has always been a way to get through life, deal with emotions and clear my head. When I started training with Gotham City Runners in NYC, I realized that what was most incredible about running was how strong you realize you are—emotionally and physically. I also realized there was a way to use my passion to make an impact. Blaine is from Philadelphia, so I reached out to her family to run the Philadelphia Marathon in her honor.
After setting a fundraising goal for myself, I created a Live Like Blaine tattoo that has been distributed to everyone who has donated. The result has been a smattering of photos of beaming athletes, all getting out there and living as Blaine and Summer would be.
Although these two women may no longer be physically present, they are still teaching me so much and truly making an impact. I wore Live Like Blaine tattoos and a bracelet for Summer, which read “Forever Positive—Summer’s Way” for all 26.2 miles of the Philadelphia Marathon. When I thought my feet were going to fall off, I turned my thoughts to these two women and pushed all the way to a 39-minute PR—a Boston qualifying time of 3:16. From them, I have learned to push through pain, as it is temporary, to push my teammates to be the best runners they can be, as we should empower fellow women, and that I can do anything I set my mind to, as they are with me every step of the way.
The Live Like Blaine Foundation honors Blaine Steinberg, an accomplished athlete, student, and leader who passed away suddenly in March 2014, just two weeks before her 21st birthday. The glass of Blaine’s life was always overflowing with joy and energy. Her relentlessly positive outlook inspired her family, friends, teammates and coaches. We hope to share Blaine’s spirit with young female athletes and leaders so that they will see life as a series of opportunities rather than hurdles. It is our goal to support projects that will encourage these women to lead by example with Blaine’s combination of grace and determination.
The foundation’s mission is to empower and inspire young women to become leaders through fitness and athletics. In addition to supporting future projects of Live Like Blaine, donations will go to support at least two deserving organizations. These are the Julie Foudy Leadership Foundation and Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative.