Jan 17, 2014 7:40 PM by Danielle Lerner

Tucson man going the distance to help mom, others battling leukemia

TUCSON- A Tucson man will go the distance this weekend to honor his mother and help others battling Leukemia. Nearly 24,000 people will take part in the P.F. Chang's Rock 'N Roll Half and Full Marathons in Phoenix Sunday, including 848 runners from Tucson. Michael Rinaldi is one of 4,000 people tackling the full 26.2-mile course and there is a special meaning behind those miles.

On training days Michael Rinaldi's mother, Emiko, is never far from his mind.

"She loves being a mom," he said.

On race day, she will be close to his heart.

"They said, 'we can't let you leave because your platelets are gone and oh by the way you have cancer and you have two months to live,'" said Rinaldi.

Last August a devastating diagnosis for the Mother of four and grandmother.

"That's what killed me the most about this whole thing," said Rinaldi. "This is the time that she's just so excited to be alive and see these kids."

Emiko not only survived chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, she was released from Walter Reid Medical Center two weeks early and is now in remission. The experience motivated Rinaldi to pay it forward by fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through Team in Training.

"These people are so special to us and just hearing their stories," said Shannon Gaines, the campaign coordinator for Team in Training in Tucson. "It's what motivates us to get out there and to train."

Michael's mom cannot be there Sunday but his sister Karen is traveling from New York to run the half. His best friend Jeff, who lost his wife to leukemia, will be with him through the full. A journey he hopes will inspire others to appreciate life and their loved ones.

"Life is short and don't wait for a disease to make you realize that," he said.

So far Rinaldi has raised more than $3,300 and he is still accepting donations. Click here to access his fundraising page.

Also, Team in Training is now registering for it's summer season. Click here for more information on that.


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