Run for the islands

Tomoko Keilholtz

Photo by David Robert

“So how do my friends and I get your newspaper to write a story about us,” the obviously young voice on the other end of the phone asked. “Well,” I said, “first you’ve got to be doing something.” Tomoko, 20, said she and her friends Erin Lynch and Vanessa Fernandez are trying to raise nearly $10,000 for the Arthritis Foundation by running a marathon in Hawaii. “I guess,” I said, “it’s all about timing.” For donations, the women can be contacted through the mail. Send queries to The Arthritis Foundation, c/o Erin Lynch, P.O. Box 5965, Tahoe City, CA. 96145-5965. More information about the marathon can be gotten at

So, what’s going on?

We’re running a 26.2-mile marathon in Honolulu. All proceeds go to the Arthritis Foundation. We have to raise $3,200 each, and they send us there. They pay plane tickets and let us stay five days. Obviously, one of the days is the marathon. [The Arthritis Foundation] has been doing it since 1997. This is my first time.

Have you run a marathon before?

No, never.

What’s the longest distance you ever run before?

I’m not a runner at all.

How are you going to run a marathon?

We train twice a week. We have a coach. I’ve been running with my friends daily. You can run-walk. There’s a trainer, and he teaches us techniques, Tuesdays and Sundays. To help us out a little. The woman from the Arthritis Foundation mentioned that 80 percent are beginners who haven’t run a marathon before. I asked her how many don’t finish because I was a little discouraged. She said in seven years, she hasn’t had anyone not finish.

You’re kidding me. Does it count if they die?

That’s what I was wondering. But she definitely boosted my confidence a little.

But really it’s not about running the marathon; it’s about raising the money, right? You don’t have to finish the marathon to get the money for the Arthritis Foundation.

It’s about the Arthritis Foundation.

Do you have any idea what the Arthritis Foundation does with the money?

They’re trying to find a cure for arthritis. They gave us a bunch of statistics. I have a binder that has a lot of information. It’s going toward finding a cure or the prevention of arthritis.

Do you work?

Not right now.

Are you a student?

Yes, at TMCC. I’m just taking all my basic classes right now.

Do you know anyone with arthritis?

My grandmother has it. It hits kind of close to home.

Are you really doing this for the vacation in Hawaii, or are you doing this for the cause?

It’s really a great cause. It’s also a personal accomplishment to be able to go and run 26 miles. I’m going to be so proud of myself afterward. I’m also so happy to be able to help a cause while I’m doing it.

What’s the date of the run?

Dec. 14. Donations have to be in by Oct. 15.