Jackie Arnold, sophomore, participated in the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach March 22, and raised more than $2,000 for cancer research in conjunction with the Livestrong Foundation.

Arnold chose to sign up for the marathon around Thanksgiving after her father received a cancer diagnosis at the beginning of this academic year, she said. She signed up for the marathon through Team Livestrong and when runners sign up with Livestrong they also pledge to raise $500 in support for cancer research.

“With everything going on with my dad I felt like it was an awesome cause to get behind, and it gave me the incentive to actually run,” Arnold said.

After promoting her fundraising on Facebook, Arnold ended up raising more than $2,000 and became the top individual fundraiser only behind the financial director of the entire event, she said.

“It was incredible to get that support from friends and family,” she said.

Arnold kept her marathon plans a secret from her father, she said. When she told him she was going to run it in his honor, he actually surprised her by telling her he had ran the same marathon in 1981.

“His friends bet him $50 that he couldn't finish it and he dug out his old marathon completion patch and gave it to me for good luck,” she said.

Arnold’s dad passed away on Thursday, February 4, which was also World Cancer Day.

When you register for this particular marathon the website asks you if you know anyone affected by cancer, Arnold said.

“I shared about my dad and about how he was a great role model for me and if it were possible to raise money to increase the chance that no one else would have to go through this I would love to be a part of something like that,” she said.

After sharing her story, one of the directors of the run emailed her asking her to use her story for the run, she said, which led to her story being featured on the runner’s guide for the race this past Sunday, she said.

Arnold finished the marathon in 5 hours and 11 minutes.

Little did she know, her friends had their own surprise planned.

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While Arnold was fundraising for cancer research through her marathon, her suite mate, sophomore Holly Speck, started a GoFundMe campaign to surprise her with a trip abroad in the fall for her birthday.

“The whole idea started because Jackie was going through her dad’s illness’s peak at the same time everyone was excited and talking about abroad applications,” Speck said.

Arnold had wanted to go to Australia for her fall semester but after her dad received his diagnosis she didn't believe that going abroad was something she wanted to do anymore because she didn't want to be across the world if anything happened, Arnold said.

“Jackie’s strong and not one to say anything, but her body language was apparent and completely understandable when everyone kept talking about abroad,” Speck said. “While everyone else was making big plans, Jackie was stuck wanting to go, but surrounded by her own guilt,” she said.

Speck said she remembered that her friend at a different school had raised an entire year’s tuition simply through a GoFundMe while his family was going through a hard time.

“Jackie’s the type of person that you’re just drawn to and she’s honestly the nicest and most genuine person at this school and I knew she would have a huge number of people willing to donate,” Speck said. “I took a shot and made the web page with sophomore Sam Mocciario and asked Sam to make a separate Groupme for Jackie’s sorority to spread the news about the donation page,” she said.

“Jackie, of course, has friends in every sorority and outside, so soon people were texting me for the link,” Speck said. “From football players to frat stars to sisters to any student to friends’ parents to Rameez at the Getty, donations flew in,” Speck said.

Within four hours of the web page going live, Speck and Mocciario had already raised $500 out of the goal of $2,500. In less than a week the goal was met and exceeded to a total of $2,550, Speck said.

“I was in awe by the response and truly touched by Richmond campus’s compassion, but not surprised that so many people loved Jackie and wanted to help,” Speck said.

After Arnold came back to school a couple weeks following her dad’s funeral, Speck, along with Arnold’s suite mates, sophomores Molly Aaronson and Kate Buckley, presented Arnold with a giant GoFundMe check as a birthday surprise, Arnold said. 

“It was just an awesome birthday present to come back to,” Arnold said. “It was breathtaking to feel so loved and welcomed especially after something so traumatic.”

Arnold plans to use the funding to visit friends abroad over fall break and hopefully wants to go during Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.

Contact reporter Carney Judge at carney.judge@richmond.edu

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