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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Kimberly Harries will run in the Marine Corps Marathon

  • For Kimberly Harries, every day is a gift she thought she might never have.



    “I was almost gone at 32,” she said. “I had a fist-sized tumor in my brain.”

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  • For Kimberly Harries, every day is a gift she thought she might never have.
    “I was almost gone at 32,” she said. “I had a fist-sized tumor in my brain.”
    But she’s still here, and Harries is determined to use this time to help others complete their own life races.
    She runs, not only for her life, but for the lives of those injured in the service of their country. An administrative specialist in the Pittsburg State University music department office, Harries often runs during her lunch break.
    “I follow a marathon program and do shorter runs on campus and longer runs over the weekend,” she  said.
    On Oct 28 she will participate in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., donating the money she raises to the Semper Fi Fund which provides immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their  families.
    Harries grew up outside the nation’s capital,  near the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.
    “When I was 20 I watched a friend run in the Marine Corps Marathon,” she said.
    Held since 1976, it is called the People’s Marathon, because anyone over the age of 14 may participate. Harries was so impressed by the event that she decided she wanted to do it someday.
    But life intervened, in the form of marriage to Phillip Harries, who is now a PSU biology professor, and the eventual births of sons Aidan, who will be 12 in January, and Evan, 10.
    “I never thought I’d leave the East Coast, but my husband was working on his doctorate, and his professor was going to Washington University in St. Louis and invited us to go,” Harries said. “We were there seven years.”
    In September 2002 she decided that it was time to think about that marathon. She began training in April 2004, then fell and broke her hand. She had them put it in a red, white and blue cast and went ahead with her marathon plans.
    It was an unforgettable experience.
    “Some people come in costume, and the first time I was there  I saw a man in a Madonna costume with that cone bra,” Harries said. “There were runners in their 60s and 70s. We start at the Iwo Jima memorial and run through the monuments . There’s a bridge you have to be over by a certain time. You have to beat the bridge or they pick you up and put you on a bus.”
    She began having headaches, and assumed they were from stress or allergies or maybe migraines, but they kept getting worse.
    “My husband was finishing his degree on Friday,” Harries said. “Tuesday night the pain was so bad I thought I was having a stroke.”
    Page 2 of 2 - She sought help at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. After being examined, she was waiting to hear from the doctor when a nurse patted her arm and said, “Honey, God will take care of you.”
    “I thought, God has bigger things to think about than my migraines,” Harries said. “Then they came in and told me I had a brain tumor.”
    She underwent surgery which removed most of the tumor.
    “Two weeks after my surgery I was running,” Harries said. “Then I called the nurse and said, ‘Is it OK that I just ran two miles?’ She said, ‘Just don’t fall down.’ Then I had radiation and chemotherapy at the same time.”
    Her tumor was malignant, and doctors said that, if it came back, it would come back aggressively.
    “I didn’t know if I’d reach 40,” Harries said. “The fact that I’m still here is amazing, but those men and women in the military who go through what they do and just think it’s their job, that amazes me.”
    After a time in Oklahoma, the Harries came to Pittsburg in 2009. It’s all been quite a change for Harries, who grew up in the east, around water and sailing, but she’s adjusting to it.
    “Pittsburg is a special little place,” she said.
    To celebrate reaching 40, Harries decided it was time for a second run in the Marine Corps Marathon and began her training. Sadly, it was interrupted this summer.
    “My mother fought ovarian cancer for 3 1/2 years, and this summer I was called home to care for her,” Harries said. “She passed on July 23, I had to start training from scratch when I got back in August.”
    Nevertheless, she is grateful that she had the opportunity to spend this last time with her mother and care for her.
    Now she’s back in action and looking forward to the marathon and the opportunity to give back to her heroes. Anyone wishing to make a donation should go to www.active.com/donate/SemperFiFundmcm2012/runkimberlyrun.
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