Dr. Eve Feinberg, the founder of the Run For Life 5K, explains the event's inspiration and that of the Life Finds a Way Foundation.
What The Run For Life 5K Is All About
For years, Dr. Eve Feinberg—a marathoner, mother of three and reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist—dreamt of starting a foundation to assist families with the costs of infertility treatment and adoption. When her colleague Dr. Lederer passed away at the age of 55 from malignant melanoma, Dr. Feinberg realized that life was too short to wait on dreams just because the timing wasn’t perfect. The untimely loss of her colleague led Dr. Feinberg to start a non-profit organization, The Kevin J. Lederer Life Foundation, also known as Life Finds A Way, and subsequently the Run For Life 5K.
As a woman who needed fertility treatments herself, Dr. Feinberg says, “I personally and professionally understand the struggle of not being able to conceive and try to do everything I can to help as many people have kids as I can. I did my obstetrics and gynecology residency at Northwestern University and my fellowship training at the National Institutes of Health. I take care of a wide range of patients from women who want to freeze eggs to delay childbearing, couples who are having difficulty conceiving and LGBTQ patients who require some help to have children.”
Since its beginnings in 2013, Life Finds A Way has partnered with nearly every fertility center in its home city of Chicago. Each center in turn donates free care to the foundation. “I take care of so many amazing people who so badly want to be parents, but the cost of treatment or adoption can be prohibitive,” Dr. Feinberg says. “We have an application process for parents for our ‘Life Grant’ program and a medical board that reviews the applications. We are able to gift free care, and the funds we raise go to treatment associated costs such as medication, agency fees for egg donation, sperm donation and use of a gestational carrier or adoption.” In 2014, the Run For Life 5K was launched to help fund the Life Grant program.
In the first year of the Run For Life 5K (which now also offers a 1-mile family walk and a 100-meter toddler dash), the foundation raised about $25,000, which was distributed to eight grant recipients. This year’s third annual event on September 24 raised nearly $75,000 and awarded 15 Life Grants as more than 200 runners participated, many of whom were past Life Grant recipients and brought their children to the festivities. While this alone is an accomplishment, Dr. Feinberg notes, “We had 88 applicants; my hope is to eventually be able to help everyone who needs it.”
Dr. Feinberg has a long history with running that stared when she was on her high school’s varsity soccer team. “Since then, I’ve always turned to running for mental clarity, for fitness and for friendship,” she explains. While she enjoys solo running, she describes herself more as a social runner who likes to run with different friends on different days. “I cherish these friendships and the raw and honest conversations we have during our runs. Running is my therapy and being a runner defines me on many levels. I love the mental toughness needed to persevere, and I love the calm that running brings to my otherwise crazy life.” Although she is about to complete her second full marathon in Chicago this October, the half marathon is her favorite distance. “Exercise is best in moderation when trying to conceive,” Dr. Feinberg advises female athletes. “Many runners struggle with infertility due to disturbances in their menstrual cycles from low body fat or high intensity exercise.”
On a final note, Dr. Feinberg states, “I have three amazing kids: an 11-year-old and 8-year-old twins, all of whom are the result of infertility treatments. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for modern science in helping to build my family.”