Running to reach the finish line for a cure

Local man finds strength to carry on for a great cause

For local resident and cancer survivor Israel “Issie” Pelc, crossing the finish line recently at the Niagara Ultra Marathon actually marked the end of not one, but two marathons.

Pelc recently completed his 60th marathon as part of a joint effort to run 60 marathons by age 60, while attempting to raise $100,000 for cancer research at Princess Margaret Hospital. What began in 1998 as an effort to “lose weight and get fit,” running quickly turned into something much more for Pelc.

“The more I ran, the more I wanted to run,” he says.

In the early months of 2006, Pelc was diagnosed with lymphoma after seeing his doctor about a lump in his throat. The diagnosis, however, did not deter Pelc from his goal of running in the Boston Marathon.

“The doctors, they timed the start of my chemotherapy after the Boston Marathon to give me an opportunity to run,” he says. “Because I was intent on running it, and I also, quite frankly, didn’t know whether I’d have another chance.”

In May 2006, following the race in Boston, Pelc began 18 weeks of chemotherapy followed by a month of radiation therapy at Princess Margaret Hospital. The treatment, however, did not keep Pelc off the pavement.

“About three weeks after my last radiation session, I ran a marathon,” he says. “I started thinking what it would take for me to get to the same number of marathons as my age.”

His determination and drive to support the hospital stems from both his personal experience there, as well as his partner’s.

In the spring of 2003, Pelc’s wife Shelly was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She has since fought two reoccurrences.

To date, Pelc has raised more than $70,000 earmarked for ovarian cancer research at Princess Margaret.

So what does he hope people take from his fundraising efforts?

“I want to be seen as an example of the fact that cancer can be beaten,” he says. “I see myself as an example of the possibilities of what good research leads to.”

For more information on Issie and to donate to the cause, visit 

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