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Local Woman Prepares to Run Philadelphia Marathon in Support of Friend Battling Cancer

Conshohocken, PA (November 11, 2013) - Marisa Cristinzio of Chalfont will be among 30,000 participants from across the country and around the world to take part in the 20th Annual Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday, November 17th.

Cristinzio is taking on this challenge to support her friend Ben Shallenberger, a Washington, D.C. resident, who was recently diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) for the second time. This will be Cristinzio's second event with Team In Training (TNT), The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's sports endurance charity program. In 2009, following the loss of her sister, Cristinzio ran in the Philadelphia Half Marathon. This year, she runs to honor Shallenberger.

Upon his first diagnosis, Shallenberger underwent eight rounds of Hyper CVAD chemotherapy, as well as spinal tap chemotherapy. For Cristinzio, it was important to show Shallenberger that he was not alone during his fight against cancer.

"This is my sacrifice of my body in hopes that one day we find a cure so no families have to go through this again," Cristinzio said. "Even if I only make a small dent in the cancer fight, it's all going to be worth it."

As for Shallenberger, he has a message of his own for those battling blood cancers. "Keep whatever makes you, you. For some, it's faith. For others, it's family. For me it was laughter. Even though my body was so different, it would never change me fundamentally."

TNT participants have the option of running or walking a full or half marathon, cycling a 100-mile bike ride, or completing a triathlon. In addition to weekly training sessions under the guidance of a certified coach, TNT offers clinics on nutrition, equipment, injury prevention and safety. Participants are also given tools to help them fundraise. TNT also arranges airfare and lodging to send participants to the events of their choice.

Cristinzio, meanwhile, has learned valuable lessons from Shallenberger during his brave fight with cancer. "My friend Ben is a lot of things," Cristinzio said. "A fighter, a kind-hearted person, a wonderful friend; but most importantly, I find him inspirational, because no matter what he still has a smile on his face through all the hardships he's going through." Cristinzio plans to bring this same strength along with her as she endures the challenges raised by the Philadelphia Marathon.

Cristinzio lives in Chalfont and works as a Manager at Green Acres Nursery and Garden Center, while focusing on a vision of a world without cancer. "I want to live in a world where that fact is part of the past," she said.

Teams are now forming for the summer season, which includes the BMO Vancouver Marathon, TriRock Philadelphia Marathon, Nike Women's Half Marathon D.C., Broad Street Run, St. Luke's Half Marathon, KeyBank Vermont City Marathon, and The Wildflower Triathlons Festival. For more information, please call the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter at (800) 482-2873 or visit our website at www.teamintraining.org/epa

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