JFS Staff Runs 5k for NNORC Resident Ida Leberman

November 13, 2017


Michelle Dannenhoffer-Cau and Ida Leberman

Last summer, NNORC resident Ida Leberman was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Through weekly home visits, Michelle Dannenhoffer-Cau (NNORC Outreach & Community Care Coordinator) has come to know Ida and has been moved by her ability to face such a serious illness.

When the 9th Annual Cherry Blossom 5K Race for ALS was announced, Michelle made the decision to run the race in hopes of winning a medal for Ida. On April 30, 2017, Michelle met up with fellow runners at Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady for this all-important race. The event raises money for St. Peter’s ALS Regional Center.

“The odds were stacked against me running competitively in this race for a couple of reasons. For one, my own physical issues kept me from running all winter.  Also, the age-group divisions were divided into 10-year groupings, and I was three months shy of “aging out”; that meant I was competing against a lot of 40-something youngsters,” Michelle shared. But that didn’t stop her, before the race started, Michelle bowed her head, closed her eyes, and thought of how much affection and admiration she has for Ida, and said a little prayer to muster just enough speed to win a medal for her.

“Ida’s spirit must have been with me that day, because the run was surprisingly strong and effortless, leading to a good-enough time for an age-group medal. I think I was the most overjoyed and emotional I’ve ever been after a race. I literally felt like an Olympian on that podium receiving my medal, because I knew I would be passing it on to a woman who has modeled so much strength and courage in the face of her illness.”