Christian Guevara’s wife, Maddison, was diagnosed with stage four endometriosis last year after suffering for nearly a decade. Following surgery, Christian searched online for ways to get more involved in the endometriosis community.
“I had just started running and always thought if I were ever going to run a marathon, it should be for a good cause,” Christian said. “EndoFound was the first to pop up when I did my search, and I thought, ‘What better cause than this?’”
Christian, from Houston, Texas, was one of roughly 50 members of Team EndoStrong to run the TCS New York City Marathon on Nov. 6. He raised $3,310 in his marathon debut. The team brought in more than $160,000 in donations.
“Everyone here is so proud of Team EndoStrong for raising critical funds and awareness on an international platform,” said Jake Carlin, assistant executive director of EndoFound. “During the race weekend, multiple individuals came up to our runners and cheering section to say, ‘I know someone with endometriosis’ or ‘I’m so glad this disease is being represented—the silence needs to end!’”
Joe Tanzi’s wife, Ali Abella, had excision surgery for endometriosis last year. She experienced symptoms for more than 10 years that worsened with time, resulting in several bedridden days in the months leading up to her surgery. The surgery was a success, and Joe wanted to find a way to help other women going forward.
“I’d run a bunch of half marathons and got the itch to run a full one,” said Joe, a New York City native now living in New Jersey. “Every year, I would enter the lottery for the marathon and get rejected. That’s when a neighbor told me I could get in through a charity. With EndoFound as one of them, it was like putting two of my worlds together. It made sense.”
Joe fought through cramps on the unseasonably warm day and stopped to help several runners who collapsed from exhaustion along the route. He finished the race and raised about $4,000 for his effort.
“For me, this was all about the advocacy and bringing awareness,” Joe said. “Ali lived with this for so many years without answers, and then we had to fight health insurance to get things covered because of their lack of knowledge. The advocacy and awareness—those are my big drivers.”
Boston Bautista, from Menlo Park, California, didn’t know anybody with endometriosis before the race. He learned about the disease through a TED Talk online and was one of Team EndoStrong’s top fundraisers with $5,226.
“Running the race was truly an incredible experience,” Boston said. “I was surrounded by my family, friends, fellow runners, and spectators who all pushed me to the finish line.”
Boston said he hopes his contributions lead to more medical research and spreading awareness of endometriosis worldwide.
“The limited recognition and attention given to endometriosis in our current society are unjust. No woman should have to suffer or feel ashamed for experiencing the symptoms of the disease,” he said. “I hope my efforts will help make endometriosis a much more understood and acknowledged disease, allowing more women to continue living amazing and successful lives.”
Christian had the same goal in running the race.
“I hope the money goes toward finding answers and eventually a cure,” he said. “If Maddison had known in high school what she knows now, she might not have been in this situation. Get answers, get women help, and stop this disease altogether.”
Christian finished the marathon and said it ranks among the top experiences of his life—and he’s hoping to add to that list soon. Since Maddison’s surgery, the couple has been trying to have a baby through IVF treatments.
“It’s been a very emotional and taxing experience, but we trust in God and have a good support system with family and friends.”
Christian added that EndoFound has become part of that support system.
“They’ve provided us with information, and I was able to meet other runners in our situation,” he said. “It’s nice to have people from the outside who know what we’re going through that we can talk to.”