On the third day of her 467-mile run, Davina McNaney remembers how her body almost shut down. Her knees, which have never caused her pain before, were killing. Her pace was significantly slower because of it – and the 80-degree heat wasn’t helping. With her husband Steve’s help, she was given two knee braces and a cooling cloth to power through. The next day, the temperature was even hotter: 87 degrees.
“I drank three gallons of water and lost five pounds that day,” Davina said recalling that difficult moment in her journey. “It still surprises me that the elements actually were the most challenging aspect of the run. Completely out of my control.”
Her mind proved to be her saving grace. Her inner resilience and the support of family, friends and strangers along the route gave her the strength to cross her 467-mile finish line on July 3. More than 200 cheering onlookers welcomed her to her childhood hometown of Sodus Point, New York – a destination that took her 15 days to reach after starting in Pickney, Michigan.
Besides Davina’s incredible athletic feat the 42-year-old mother of two and breast cancer survivor, accomplished an astonishing fundraising achievement as well. Her inspiring act encouraged others to donate to the cause she was running for: breast cancer research. She far surpassed her initial $5,000 fundraising goal by raising an incredible $20,500 for BCRF.
“I learned that the further you stick your neck out to show others how dedicated you are to a project, the easier it is for them to get behind you,” Davina said. “It was wonderful to hear my totals creep up every day. It definitely kept me focused on my goal. Just run!”
And she did. Through two days of extreme heat and four days of heavy rain, Davina kept going. By the end of her run she wore two knee braces, had a severely swollen ankle, numb feet, blistered toes, black toenails and she lost 11 pounds. Towards the end of each day, her husband Steve said she would become delirious, had poor reasoning skills and was highly emotional.
But through the tough times came moments of profound kindness that kept Davina on track. When Davina crossed through Geneva, Ohio, local resident Michelle Hawk brought firefighters and her church group to cheer Davina on.
“She even drove all the way from Ohio to see me cross the finish line in New York!” Davina said.
At one point, Davina remembers reading a message from a mother of two who described how she was going through chemotherapy.
“She expressed how thankful she was that I was raising money for research and how hopeful she was that she too would make her comeback,” Davina said. “Steve read her note to me at a point when I was physically spent and crying. I pulled it together really quickly after hearing her words.”
“Running gave me hope during my darkest hours in my bout with breast cancer,” Davina says. “I gained my strength back from running and am now doing it to give hope to others. I want all victims of cancer to know that they can do anything that they put their mind to – there is nothing they cannot overcome!”