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Often times people come into our lives and we’re not quite sure the impact they’ll have at first glance. My move to Charleston, South Carolina 6 years ago has connected me with a few people who have reshaped my view on my own self worth, what I’m capable of accomplishing, and the level of gratitude I should be steeped in each and every day.

Two of those very special people are my friends Katie Penta and Keith Benjamin. Both Katie and Keith have lived through the pain of saying goodbye to a parent because of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) long before they should have had to. In both the case of Katie’s mom, Wanda, and Keith’s dad, Robert, they managed to find blessings in every breath. Rather than being hardened by their circumstances, they found gratitude in the gift of life – even when days became numbered.
Getting to know Katie and seeing the fire she has for instilling gratitude for the ability to move our bodies has changed the way I have learned to be thankful for my own. Keith’s spirit, commitment to community, positivity and genuine spirit reminds me to count my blessings over and over again.

It is their tenacity to have their parents’ legacy live on in the creation of Motivated to Move (a movement articulated through wellness events, founded by Katie, Keith, Joey Welling and myself) that will inspire others to appreciate their ability to sweat. All while raising funds to combat the financial burden of ALS until we can (and will!) find a cure.

On April 20th I will have the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon and raise funds for Compassionate Care ALS – an amazing organization that provides support to families who struggle with the day-to-day realities of ALS. The marathon has been an unofficial life-goal that I mustered up the courage to throw out into the universe just a few months ago. The universe answered last week with an opportunity to not only run, but raise funds for an organization, a cause, and people who I care for deeply.

I’d be honored for your support and hope that I may even see some of you in Boston this April!
With gratitude,


Checks can be sent to:
CCALS – Zettler Marathon
PO Box 1052
West Falmouth, MA 02574




Susan Mennear
Kristin Ashcraft


“Go, Gillian!!! This is an amazing endeavor for you and the cause! Love you, Kristin and the family”

“You go, girl! First marathon! You can do it! Love, Aunt Susie. So proud of you.”