Sondra Rose may have been one of the last people to finish the New York City Marathon on Sunday, but it would be hard to find any racer whose finish was sweeter.
Rose, who will turn 78 in three weeks, finished the 26.2 mile race long after the sun had set and as race organizers were cleaning up the finish line. She was still greeted, nonetheless, by cheering fans and her husband, Marvin, who gave her a hug and a kiss. “You made it,” he said.
“He thinks I am Wonder Woman,” Rose said of her husband.
Rose, of Cedarhurst, N.Y., estimated that it took her around nine hours to complete the marathon course, but she said she didn’t even pay attention to the clock at the finish line.
What she can tell you, though, is the amount of money she’s raised -- $14,000 and counting since July -– for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program. Rose started raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in 2008 after her then three-year-old grandson, Jack, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Jack underwent two years of chemotherapy and is now a healthy 11-year-old in remission, according to Rose.
“I’m so grateful for the research that someone raised money for Jack to have, so I’m trying to do that every day for others,” said Rose, who also finished the marathon in 2011.
Rose, a grandmother of four, said she's feeling "great" post-marathon. Her daughter joined her for the last 10 miles of the race and came with a care package of pita chips, chocolate and water.
At mile four in the race, Rose says a sweeper vehicle came to ask her and another walker if they wanted a ride, to which she replied, not a chance.
“I said, ‘Oh no. We’re going to be at the finish line,’” Rose recalled. “When I started I knew I was finishing. I didn’t care what discomfort I had.”
“Now I’m sending more [fundraising] letters out from this event,” said Rose, who also raises money by hosting raffles, luncheons and booking wellness trips. “Now that I’ve completed it, I have another appeal.”