After losing her grandfather to Hodgkin's lymphoma this past February, Naomi Underwood decided she wanted to do something to create cancer awareness and raise funds to help with research and patient aid. Since she was a former Brave trackster, running a marathon as part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program seemed a good fit.

Underwood, 24, an Octorara High School graduate, who resides in Lancaster County, will compete in the Marine Corp. 26.2-mile marathon in Washington, D. C. on Sunday, Oct. 29. Until the time of the event the former Braves 400 and 800-meter runner is training for the long distance running ordeal and raising funds on the society's behalf.

"It's such a fantastic cause," said Underwood, an employee of Signature Pizza Restaurant in Parkesburg. "I wanted to do this."

While running a race of this distance is challenging, Underwood has had prior experience as a cross country runner for the Braves. "Yeah, it's going to be difficult, but I'll make it." Two of her high school coaches, Andy Huber and Lori Blantz, played a big part in her decision to participate in the Team in Training program. "They were the best coaches and mentors I could have ever asked for," said Underwood

A Christiana resident, Underwood has the support of her parents, Doug and Janice, and sisters Rebecca, 25, and Heather, 20. "It will be exciting and I'm looking forward to it," said Naomi, the middle sister. Mother is employed at Auntie Anne's Inc, while dad is self-employed (Underwood Plumbing).

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training is the world's largest sports training program. In addition to marathons, the society offers half marathons, triathlons and cycling tourneys. All with the hopes of raising funds through the athletic endeavors of those committed to good health and ridding the world of cancer causes.

Underwood appreciates the support she is receiving from family and friends throughout the community, but encourages all interested individuals to aid her through donations to her cause. Currently she has raised over $2000 with $5000 as her goal. You can assist her efforts by contacting her website at www.active.com/donate/tntcpa/tntcpaNUnderw or e-mail her at naomi.underwood@gmail.com.

Underwood has no aspirations of winning the marathon. Simply finishing the race is enough satisfaction. That and presenting the Society with a generous donation.

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