Pink Shoes, Finisher Medals & Our Collective Strength

A mom and her daughter focus on finish lines, not on Cancer

Written by: Cora Lindsay & Augie Rayner 

When physicians told Orly she had 6-9 months to live, she said, “You need to check your math because my daughter and I signed up for the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, and we have a race to finish.”

Orly, a mother of six, began her running journey just after she and her family celebrated her youngest child’s 2nd birthday. She was engaged in a Ph.D. program and was a full-time Language Arts teacher at a local Houston area school. “I started for physical reasons and kept going for mental health reasons.”

Abrielle, her eldest child, was sixteen when her mother began running. She saw her mom having fun and wanted to join. “Once we found matching pink running shoes, it was over,” Abrielle said. Really, it was just the beginning.

The Aramco Houston Half Marathon was the first race they ran together. After completing two races, they were committed to this long-distance running sport.

Two years after that first big finish line moment, Orly discover

ed that she needed to undergo immediate treatment for stage 4 colon cancer.

Orly’s husband, Steve, says, “Chemo and running is why she is still alive.” Orly says her “focus is on finish lines, not cancer.” She added, “You need to do everything the doctor tells you, and I do, but it’s important to also do everything you need to do to maintain yourself, to not lose yourself.” So, she keeps training, running, and racing while undergoing treatment under the watchful eye of her physicians and family.

Abrielle said that training and racing “has allowed my mom to reclaim her strength.” Watching her mom stay strong and fight gives her the strength she needs to face the fight!

Since Orly’s very first race, she has been a Hero Runner, fundraising for charitable causes that are a part of the Run for a Reason program. This coming January 2024 she will fundraise for the American Cancer Society. A charity that helps individuals like herself in the battle to fight cancer. Since Orly’s first Aramco Houston Half Marathon in 2020 she has fundraised over $3,215 for four separate charities. Those other charitable organizations include: The Chron’s + Colitis Foundation of America, The Holocaust Museum of Houston, Organization for Autism Research and now The American Cancer Society.

Running is a large part of the conversations Orly and her daughter have, and they speak three to four times a day. It keeps them focused. Focusing on the finish lines, not Cancer. The medals they’ve earned “are something we cherish more than anything because they are a tangible representation of all that we are accomplishing.” Abrielle said.

“Look at our cumulative strength. Look at these accomplishments.

Look what we can do!”

Orly feels similar. She shares that when she is having a challenging time with treatment, she will “look at my running shoes, my medals, and then call Abrielle.”

Orly wants everyone to know that “no matter what people tell you, you have the strength to do what you want, just don’t give up.”

If you want to participate in this upcoming race with Orly and Abrielle as a Hero Runner through the Run For A Reason Program, you may fundraise or donate towards a participating charity here.

Follow Orly and Abrielle via their blog