Now 91 years old, Joanie can still remember the day she was diagnosed with heart disease. She was only fifty but her doctor’s prognosis left her grieving. No one in her family had lived much past sixty and Joanie worried she had only a short time left. 

Joanie took up running as a way to keep her mind off her fate. Eventually, leisurely jogs became long runs in Central Park. She loved taking laps around the park’s reservoir. From any vantage point, she could take in the skyline and imagine she was running toward those buildings. Without any family to support her, Joanie decided to join a running group. She made new friends who encouraged her to run a marathon — and at 63 she did. 

Joanie continued running for many years, managing to stay ahead of her health troubles. She even became a record holder in her age group. New York Road Runners awarded her Athlete of the Year. It was seven years ago that Joanie ran her final race. She remembers feeling ill, but her ambitious nature stopped her from dropping out. 

Just yards from the finish line, she collapsed in severe pain. Her body crashed through a barrier, breaking her neck and nose. Joanie’s heart disease was finally winning. Her doctor told her she would never run again. 

Every step is agonizing.

Once again, she was heartbroken. Joanie’s condition has only worsened in recent years. Blood flow to her major organs is restricted, leaving her in intense pain every day. Even walking around her apartment has become challenging. “Every step is agonizing,” she explains. 

Today, Joanie has only the memories of her accomplishments. Medals from past races hang above her dresser and pictures from her days as a runner rest on a small table. Without deliveries from Citymeals, Joanie would be unable to maintain her independence at home. “It is heaven!” she exclaims. 

That’s why Joanie roots for Team Citymeals each year in the TCS New York City Marathon. She knows every dollar the runners raise will nourish vulnerable — and grateful — homebound elderly like her.