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2021 TCS New York City Marathon

New York, NY

We are thrilled to be selected as an Official Charity Partner in the 2021 TCS NYC Marathon! On November 7, Team Gluten-Free runners from across the country will unite in New York to run the 26.2 miles with the common goal of accelerating diagnosis, treatments, and a cure for the three million Americans affected by celiac disease.


November 7, 2021


NYC Marathon Team Gluten-Free runners will commit to raising a minimum of $3,500 in support of the Celiac Disease Foundation. Runners will also agree to federal, state, and local health and safety guidelines, as well as NYRR’s guidelines on race day, November 7, 2021.

Meet part of our incredible Team Gluten-Free!

Tom Barabas: Our family’s celiac story started with my son, eight years ago, as a 3-year old. He began to have severe intestinal issues, he wasn’t growing and his teeth had turned gray, since he wasn’t getting any nutrients. In general, he was an absolutely miserable child, which was demoralizing because he was previously so happy. After way too many trips to the local doctor, where we were consistently told not to worry about it, my wife practically begged the doctor to have a blood test. My son’s numbers literally came back off the charts. After getting an endoscopy, he was officially diagnosed with celiac disease, and we were able to move towards getting him better.  He is now a healthy, happy, athletic child who is amazing at dealing with his disease. Several years later, my wife, who by this point had been gluten-free for years, began to have her own intestinal issues. Testing showed damage to her intestines, most likely from undiagnosed celiac disease.  While we have learned to manage the disease as a family, there is much work to be done with regard to outreach and advocacy, in addition to early diagnosis and ultimately a cure.  It is an honor to help reach those goals by running for Team Gluten-Free and raising money for the Celiac Disease Foundation. Support Tom here!


Judy Mikacich: Juggling motherhood and doctoring has been a challenge for me from the start. Trying to fit in a love for running has added yet another challenge. Rarely does a single event allow me to combine all three of those “loves” at once. Training for the New York City Marathon as a member of Team Gluten-Free is one of those rare opportunities, and I am super excited to be on the task! When our eldest daughter, Clara, now 18, was diagnosed with celiac disease as a sophomore in high school, it was a TOTAL surprise. I knew no one with the disease and almost nothing about it, even as a physician.  Running in a cross-country race, Clara looked far more exhausted than she should have. My husband (also a physician) and I looked at each other bewildered. Was it her Graves’ Disease Hyperthyroidism acting up?  Was she just worn out?  Maybe not suited for running, after all? A few doctor visits and lab tests later, we were looking at a 16-year-old with a second autoimmune diagnosis: celiac disease. While we have “answers” in the form of diagnoses, I have so many more questions about why this happened and what, if anything, we could have done to prevent it. Clara is a stalwart, and she has handled her disease processes beautifully, but her life could have been so much more carefree. And facing college dorm life (if she gets to attend in the current COVID-19 situation) is daunting…at least for me as her mother! I haven’t run a marathon in almost 30 years. But what could be better than being a mother and a doctor and runner in one of the best athletic events in one of the best cities in the world?! So, I’ll give it my best shot, supporting Team Gluten-Free to help the Celiac Disease Foundation find answers and making life easier for kids like Clara and families like ours. Support Judy here!


Ann Marie Lander: I first learned about celiac disease nine years ago, when my son Caleb, now 13, was just a toddler. After numerous trips to our family doctor for ongoing ear infections, blood work determined Caleb was silently suffering with dangerously low hemoglobin. Those numbers ultimately led to the endoscopy and colonoscopy that confirmed his diagnosis. To say it was a scary experience is an understatement. As a parent, to watch your child’s little body be in any pain is simply heartbreaking, let alone having no knowledge of the disease that is causing it. Although it may be a “simple diet fix”, it is not a simple transition. Running has been my outlet for over 20 years. I will run for my son Caleb, my niece Caroline, and every other child that feels different because they have to eat differently. I will run for every parent that has no clue where to start, because I was that parent, crying in the grocery store right after his diagnosis unsure of what was safe to buy. It is an absolute honor to run through the great city of New York for Team Gluten-Free while supporting the Celiac Disease Foundation, whose mission for a cure is so near and dear to my heart. Support Ann Marie here!


 Brett Saunders: I was never really a runner until I was recalled to Active-Duty in the Navy right after 9-11. That is when I caught the running “bug” and began to run for exercise. Thru the next 15 years, I increased my distance and ran my first marathon at Disney World just five years ago, at 54 years old. Since then, I have run a total of 6 marathons, but never New York City Marathon.  My bucket list has always been the NYC Marathon. The opportunity to run through all five boroughs has always been a real draw to me, and now to be able to raise money and run for a charity like Celiac Disease Foundation makes it even better. My wife works with celiac disease patients daily to provide a wonderful and safe way to travel the world, by offering dedicated gluten-free kitchens for her cruise guests. As her spouse, I am a great moral supporter in the business and have learned so much about celiac disease.  To be able to raise money and give back to the Celiac Disease Foundation is a real win-win situation.  I turned 60 this year and this will most likely be my last marathon, so I really want to make this one count; not just for another Marathon Finishing Medal, but for “Team Gluten Free” in the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon. Support Brett here!


Emma Quigley: My journey with celiac disease began my senior year of college just about four years ago. As a college student and Division 1 athlete, the last thing I was hoping to take on were various health issues that kept me from playing the sport I loved, Field Hockey, and participating in my college experience to its fullest. After missing almost half a year of training due to a stress fracture in my shin and various other minor injuries that seemed to appear out of nowhere, I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease. Ever since my diagnosis I have experienced the ups and downs of an autoimmune disease that can bring challenges and victories, and now I am finally in a place where I have never felt healthier. After moving to New York City post graduation, running has become an outlet for me – running has allowed me to continue to push myself and enjoy much needed time outdoors exploring the city. In 2019, I participated in the Brooklyn Half Marathon and have had my eyes set on the New York City Marathon ever since! I am incredibly excited and proud to be able to run for the New York City Marathon as a member of Team Gluten-Free and raise money for the Celiac Disease Foundation, which is a cause that greatly impacts me and my community.  Support Emma here!


Molly Shepherd: About six and a half years ago, I knew very little, if anything, about celiac disease. Our 5th grade daughter, Grace, was always very small and hovered at the bottom of the growth chart curve. But that year, she dipped below and off the curve, and her pediatrician was concerned.  After blood work and a biopsy, it was confirmed that Grace had celiac disease. The information we received after her initial diagnosis was sparse, largely on how to avoid gluten with just one visit to the nutritionist and we quickly became students of a gluten-free diet. Trips to the grocery store were stressful, and I was overwhelmed with concern of keeping her safe, healthy and well fed. However, I believe this disease impacts Grace beyond her gut. It is my hope that research will delve deeper into the implications of celiac on mind and body, equipping providers with comprehensive information to help support patients and families more effectively. Today, Grace is 16 and has grown in wisdom, experience and many inches after adopting a gluten-free diet. I am so proud of her. It is my prayer that celiac patients will have diagnoses accelerated, awareness and research bolstered, and ultimately a cure. I am thrilled to run in the 2021 TCS New York Marathon and represent Team Gluten-Free. I am running for Grace and all those who bravely navigate life with celiac disease. Support Molly here!


Aaron Kent: Throughout my life, my biggest fans have always been my parents. They have supported me through every sport that I have ever played, no questions asked. A few years ago, I got into endurance sports (marathons, Ironman triathlons, etc.) and again they were by my side. My Dad was also into his own endurance sport, surfing. He was the healthiest 67 year old I knew. He could surf for hours on end (up to 7 hours if the waves were good), and wake up the next morning to do it again. He was freshly retired and enjoying surfing even more, when one day he felt so faint, he wound up in the emergency room. Fast forward two years, numerous hospital stays, every test possible, and several trips to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and he was officially diagnosed with celiac disease. Needless to say, our lives have changed since the diagnosis. To watch him lose so much weight, become easily fatigued, and not be able to surf has been heart breaking. But he took it all in stride, educated himself and us about gluten-free living and is still one of the most positive people I know. Two years ago, I honestly thought being gluten-free was a hipster fad diet, but since my Dad’s diagnosis, I learned how ignorant I was.

I want to help spread awareness about the dangers of gluten for those with celiac disease. I often think about how my Dad has been able to endure and persevere through his diagnosis on a daily basis. He inspires me as an endurance athlete to keep pushing through my training everyday. To be able to represent him and the Celiac Disease Foundation in the TCS NYC Marathon means so much to me. It is truly an honor and a privilege to represent an organization that is committed to raising awareness and supporting education, research, and treatment of celiac disease. Support Aaron here!