Since a Fort Myers woman received her breast cancer diagnosis in 2003, she has run in 172 marathons across the country.
Now, she plans to take on her most challenging course yet — the Grand Canyon. And while doing it, she will sport a shirt that says “helping survivors live their adventurous dreams.”
When 65-year-old Amy Yanni was diagnosed with cancer, she said giving up was not an option. And after undergoing treatment, she made it a goal to run a marathon in every state to inspire others fighting their own battles to continue not only living but striving toward their dreams.
“I’ve run a marathon in every state,” said Yanni, who pointed out her finish times were under 4 hours. “I didn’t really run marathons until after breast cancer.”
Yanni emphasized the individual experience for cancer patients such as herself.
“It got me up and moving around,” Yanni said. “Each one of us will have a difficult time and the idea is that will come at a different time for every person.”
More medical drama last year slowed her pace. She had her hips replaced. But Yanni refuses to let anything keep her from crossing another finish line. Yanni continues to train for her toughest trek yet, a 45-mile hike across the Grand Canyon in August.
That two-day hike will benefit the Project Athena Foundation, which is a nonprofit supporting the survivors of medical or traumatic setbacks.
“It got me up and moving because I thought, ‘Well, if these people think I can do this, I’m gonna get up to give people, who have through some kind of a health crisis, a sense of their own ability, and to understand that it takes a team,'” Yanni said.
Yanni will fly to Phoenix on Aug. 22 to hike the Grand Canyon for fellow survivors. She said after completing the 45-mile trek, she is excited to celebrate with a shower.
Her perseverance is inspiring people facing a health crisis to keep going toward their goals.
“I am a survivor,” Yanni said.