Inspiring Latina of the Week: Marathon Runner Stefanie Frances

Stefanie Frances didn't think she'd run a marathon when she first started running. But soon, it became a passion. Now, she's completed more than 30 marathons and, at the age of 60, has no plans on stopping. 

Every year Frances runs the Nike Marathon race, which is now in its 10th year and is one of the largest women's marathons in the world. (Fun fact: you get a Tiffany's necklace at the end!) The race benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training. To date, Frances has raised more than $100,000 for the cause. 

For her passion and giving heart, Stefanie Frances is this week's Inspiring Latina! 

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I grew up in Lorain, Ohio. I am the third eldest of eight children. My parents are of Mexican descent. My mother moved all of us to San Diego, California when I was in the middle of the 10th grade. We literally had to flee from my father, as he was a violent alcoholic. After I graduated from high school, I married the same kind of person my father was. Five years later, I separated from my ex-husband and raised my two children as a single parent. My daughter was four and my son was one.

What inspired you to start running? When was it?

After my separation I was left in a huge financial debt. Along with being a single parent, I was overwhelmed. I had never smoked, drank or experimented with any kind of drugs. I needed an outlet.

In 1982, I started running, first a mile at a time, then two, and so on. In 1986, a friend invited me to run a 10k. I was hooked! I ran many many local 10k road races. I enjoyed running and it quickly became a passion.

I started dreaming of running a marathon. 26.2 miles seemed like a LONG way. I knew I could do it, I just didn’t know how to begin to train for such a long distance. I read an article in Runner’s World magazine that advertised, “we can train you to run a marathon.” I called the 800 number and was invited to attend a meeting.

That meeting was a “kick-off” to a The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training (TNT) fall season. I signed up to raise money to find a cure for blood related cancers and train to run a marathon. I ran my first marathon in Honolulu Hawaii in 1996. I was 42 and had my grandson had just turned two. I’m still running and raising money to help find a cure. This is my 17th year fundraising for the cause.