Local runner, set to run in NYC Marathon, comes home with message instead

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. - Jen Silvers hoped to add a second marathon badge to her collection of races.

"This is really special because this was my first ever marathon," Silvers said as she held up a blue and red medal.

But Superstorm Sandy dashed the dream hours after she arrived in New York.

"I thought the race should be canceled from the get-go, but it wasn't," said Silvers.

So she went, along with her mom and dad to cheer her on. The family had a mission. Jen was running for her beloved brother Billy who passed away in 2008 when he was only 36 years old. She got support from 60 donors that gave more than $4,000 to enable her to run with Team Livestrong.

"He died a month after being diagnosed.  It does not seem possible that he is not here," Silvers said.

A rare cancer took her brother away.  She trained for months, covering every inch of her neighborhood.  At first, the cancellation was devastating, emotionally and financially.  Silvers is searching for a new job.

But, after her initial shock. Silvers said she knew, "Staten Island, where the race starts, is devastated. To this day it is devastated. How could we have a starting gun go off and everyone cheering and roaring and running through the streets when they are still puling bodies out of houses. It's not right," she said.

And then Silvers and hundreds of her fellow runners volunteered to do the right thing. They went to Staten Island and the Bronx and where ever else they were needed. She came home a day early, because she had to.

"Everyone knows how much hotel costs in New York, so not to stay another night really helped," Silvers explained.

But the time she was there also helped her soul. She witnessed a life lesson in giving back. And while she can't fill pages of her scrapbook, "But, you know what I'm thinking, I might even make a page and put 'canceled' across,"  Silvers said with a smile thumbing through her book.

She'll add it to all her race memorabilia she brought back, including her shirt that would have signified a finish. It'll help motivate her.

"I am going to do it next year. So this isn't over for me. I will run for my brother," Silvers said.

And she knows while she may not have run, her brother couldn't be more proud.

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