Woman of the Year - Marathon Goddess

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Contact: Ray Sotero, Communications Director (916) 651-4028 office; (916) 834-1128 cell; or Ray.Sotero@sen.ca.gov


Her personal quest raised awareness – and dollars – for pancreatic cancer Sen. Ted W. Lieu honors marathon runner Julie Weiss of

By Sen. Ted W. Lieu D-Torrance 

(In celebration of National Women’s History Month, each member of the California Assembly and Senate may honor a woman from his or her district.  This profiles Ted W. Lieu’s choice.)


For more than 100 years, the California Legislature has annually honored extraordinary women.  This year, I am honored to select Julie Weiss as the Woman of the Year for the 28th Senate District. Julie is a California inspiration as unique as Yosemite’s majestic waterfalls, and as brazen as a high-speed locomotive booming down the track.  How?  She recently achieved her goal of competing in 52 marathons in 52 weeks, all to raise awareness – and nearly $200,000 – for the Manhattan Beach-based Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. But more than just her superhuman accomplishment, it’s the depth of the journey that has been extraordinary.   In 2007, Julie, a resident of Santa Monica, found a soulful response to the simple act of taking a jog during a family vacation.  One morning, the self-described struggling young mom, in her estimation overweight and reliant on antidepressants, got off the couch.   “I starting running and soon discovered that I didn’t need my meds and my extra weight melted away,” Julie says of the life-changing moment.  She began training for her first marathon in 2008.  She elicited help from the first president of her rapidly expanding booster club – her dad. “We had a dream that I would qualify for the Boston marathon and with his help, I attempted to qualify 19 times,” she told me.  “But one week before I finally did qualify in 2010, my father passed away.”  With her trainer gone from the spectator gallery but spiritually occupying a VIP seat in her heart, Julie finished that first marathon in Boston, and promised herself to explore the unfathomable truth that pancreatic cancer can knock unexpectedly on anyone’s door.  The incredible adventure to raise hope, money and awareness for pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States (but ranked lowest for research funding) had begun.   Almost every weekend for a year, the full-time accountant would leave the office after work on Friday, say goodbye to her children and face the grueling scenario of the next few days.  It would entail a flight or lengthy drive to the next marathon location, a brief few hours to become acclimated to the new environment, and then a wake-up call hours before Sunday’s dawn to bare often freezing temperatures and a 26-mile run. After the race, the hectic post-race marathon of navigating the long road home and preparing for Monday morning client meetings was all part of the package.  There was no time to tend to the normal aches and pains of serious running, and no time to ponder the accomplishment of such a feat. “My marathon schedule was nothing compared to what people with pancreatic cancer face every day,” Julie said.  “I was motivated to keep going and turn my efforts into something much bigger than myself.  As the process unfolded, I found I could push through barriers and limitations I never thought possible.”   When Julie’s quest finally came to an end, she had run 1,362.4 miles, starting with the Rome Marathon in March 2012 and concluding with the ASICS Los Angeles Marathon in March 2013.  Through her website, www.marathongoddess.com, she generated thousands in donations, cultivated an army of supporters throughout the world, caught the attention of media from CNN, The Today Show, the Los Angeles Times and many others, and just like she set out to do, generated considerable pancreatic cancer awareness. To honor Julie and her personal accomplishment is to honor the courage of those suffering from a dreaded disease and to acknowledge that pancreatic cancer deserves the funding necessary to find a cure.  Join me Sunday(cqMay19) at about 10 a.m. during closing ceremonies at the finish line during PurpleStride Los Angeles, a 5k run and walk at Exposition Park in Los Angeles when I will present Julie with a framed resolution recognizing her leadership and community spirit.  As long as there are the likes of Julie Weiss in our midst, women who lead through hope and prove anything is possible, there is a true purpose for a Woman-of-the-Year Award. By recognizing them, we give face to the unacknowledged they fight for. And that’s one principle will never go out of style.    For more, visit Lieu’s Web site at the address below or contact Lieu’s office.   Ted W. Lieu represents the more than 1 million residents of Senate District 28, which includes the cities of Beverly Hills, Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, Torrance, West Hollywood and the Palos Verdes Peninsula as well as portions of Long Beach and Los Angeles including, Beverly Glenn, Brentwood, Cheviot Hills, Harbor City, Hollywood Hills, Marina del Rey, Mar Vista, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, San Pedro, Venice, Westwood and Wilmington. See a district map HERE: For more, visit www.senate.ca.gov/lieu.