Alaska female running community rallying around man
When you've been married for 45 years, it’s sometimes fun to think back to the beginning.
Kathy and Jay Wisthoff say they met at West High School when both of their fathers were stationed in Anchorage.
“We didn’t start dating until the end of senior year, and we ended up getting married December of 1972 after we graduated,” Kathy said. “He is the funniest guy I know, and he’d laugh and he was so fun to be around.”
Jay says he and Kathy have always enjoyed being active together.
“We started off with baseball and bowling,” Jay said. “We do everything together.”
So naturally, when Kathy was approached to help start the Alaska Run for Women 26 years ago, Jay was onboard.
“It was a great fit for us because, at the time, my younger sister had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and my mother was a survivor, at the time, and so was his mother,” Kathy said.
All proceeds from the Alaska Run for Women go towards breast cancer research, education, outreach, prevention and early detection.
The Wisthoffs have dedicated tons of time and money to the cause.
Jay was in charge of a raffle that has brought in more than $630,000 to help fight the disease in the 49th state.
But after all these years of devoting themselves to supporting female cancer survivors, the Wisthoffs received some bad news.
Jay was recently diagnosed with an aggressive and incurable brain cancer.
“He's had three different chemos, and he's got this new technology that he wears on his head every day, which has been a real blessing because it kills cancer cells and keeps them from reproducing,” Kathy said.
Jay's cancer affects his memory and speech.
“I will think a number or a word and just not be able to say it,” Jay said.
Despite the challenges, the Wisthoffs are now using Jay’s cancer story to raise even more money for breast cancer awareness and research.
Kathy started a run for women team called the "Jazzy Jaywalkers" and it’s already become one of the race's biggest teams that has donated the most.
“I took orders for 150 shirts, so there are a lot of people that want to be part of the team and honor him,” Kathy said.
Even in their own crisis, the Wisthoffs are working to give back, and Anchorage's female race community is rallying around a man that has supported them every step of the way.
“I'm sure you get to a point where you just have to stop, but at this point, I’m not there,” Jay said.
The 2018 Run for Women will be held June 9 in Anchorage.
Participants are encouraged to register online.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.