Christa Ballantyne, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Craig and Carol Ballantyne of Aurelia, is a young woman on a mission.
The senior at Aurelia Community High School received a postcard in the mail a year or more ago, telling about the P.F. Chang Rock-n-Roll Marathon in Arizona. The marathon is open to contestants from across the country, and benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a national voluntary health agency dedicated to curing leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma.
Christa says she does not know who put her name on a mailing list for the event, but feels "maybe it was fate", and that she was destined to receive the card, and subsequently to run in the race. At the time she received the postcard, Christa's maternal grandmother, Helen Braunschweig, was in the middle of a four-year battle with multiple myleloma. Helen finally succumbed in July 2005, and she requested that some of her memorial money be used for cancer research. Heather wrote "everyone (she) knows", telling them about her plan to run the half-marathon (13.1 miles) in Phoenix, Arizona on January 15, 2006 in honor of her grandma Helen and her cousin Melody Schipper, and asked for donations. She and her family also had a garage sale of her grandma's things, and all the profits went to Christa for her trip. Christa needed to raise at least $3500 for her trip to Arizona, and has exceeded that by raising $4500. Christa stated that 75% of the money she has raised will go for research, while the remainder will go for the cost of her trip and hotel room.
Christa said that there will be at least 11,000 contestants in the half-marathon, as well as an unknown number in the longer full marathon.
Ballantyne has been training for several months, and tries to run 6 - 9 miles five-six times a week at the Cherokee Wellness Center. She has also been a member of the Aurelia Cross Country team, so put in a few miles there as well.
Ballantyne is participating as a member of the "Team In Training", which is an internet-based team. As part of being a team member, Christa has a coach, nutritionist and teammates.
Christa will be flying down to Phoenix on January 13, and her parents, as well as her friend and classmate Jana Radke, will be flying down later that day. All will return to Aurelia on January 16.