Michelle Torrez Laces Up for the National AIDS Marathon Training Program
Michelle Torrez has many reasons to try something she never imagined: participating in the National AIDS Marathon Training Program to prepare to run a marathon in Chicago in October.
Michelle, a hairdresser who lives in North Hollywood, says that she never exercised a day in her life. One day she woke up and realized she was overweight, had been smoking for 25 years and was about to turn 40.
She decided to make changes in her life. "If I have to get old I want to do it gracefully!" she said. So Michelle quit smoking, and began an exercise program.
She lost 67 pounds. Now, she says, "I don't act 40, I don't look 40 and now I don't feel 40 either."
Getting Outdoors and Getting ActiveTo lose weight, Michelle started riding a stationary bike, jumping rope and doing step aerobics at home. But all of the indoor exercise started to bore her. She wanted to get out of the house and get active.
Then one day Michelle received a letter about the National AIDS Marathon Program, now in its second year at AIDS Project Los Angeles. While the thought of training for a 26.2-mile marathon seemed daunting, Michelle was drawn to it.
She was also drawn to the purpose of the program: to raise funds to benefit people affected by AIDS. While living in San Francisco for 13 years before moving to southern California, Michelle lost 16 close friends and many casual acquaintances to AIDS.
Running the marathon, Michelle reasoned, was a perfect chance for her to push her fitness to the next level, and to help people with AIDS.
"I don't want my whole life to be just about me," she said. "I want to help people. I can't help my friends who I lost, but there are many more people out there I can help."
Over the next six months, Michelle will train for the Chicago marathon. She also intends to raise $4,000 for APLA, surpassing the required minimum goal of $2,600.
According to Rob Grayson, program manager of the AIDS marathon training program, in 1999 the runners from Los Angeles raised $2.5 million. This year, the goal is to raise $3 million for APLA.
Fund-Raising FunMichelle is just as enthusiastic about raising the money as she is about running the marathon.
On Saturday, July 15, she is having a fund-raising party at the salon where she works. With support from businesses and individuals, she plans to sell 3,000 raffle tickets at $1 each. Massages, car washes, cab rides and gift certificates are some of the prizes that will be awarded in the raffle.
Michelle is also sending out letters asking for donations to friends and family. She is even pulling out old address books and sending letters to people she hasn't kept up with in years.
"I think it's a great way to get back in touch with people who I haven't talked with in a long time," Michelle said. "If they respond, great, if they don't, then at least they will know what's going on in my life!"
A Wonderful FeelingMichelle says that she feels more alive than she has felt in years, and getting the opportunity to help people is a wonderful feeling.
"Twenty-six miles makes me nervous to think about, and when I tell people who knew me from when I was overweight and smoking that I am going to run a marathon they think I'm crazy.
"Maybe I am a little, but I know I can do it."
For information about the National AIDS Marathon Training Program, call (323) 993-1400. To support Michelle Torrez, send a check to the National AIDS Marathon Training Program, P.O. Box 38797, L.A. 90038-0797, and indicate that your pledge is for participant No. 0243.
This article has been reprinted at The Body with the permission of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).
This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.