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California Dreamin’…. of NF Endurance Races

The Children’s Tumor Foundation NF Endurance Team gives participants the opportunity to run, bike, or swim in endurance events across the country.  We asked one of our athletes, Dawn Lowell, why she races with us and what it means to her family.

“My involvement with the NF Endurance Team began in 2009.  My daughter Ava was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) at 6 months old.  After her first MRI, it was discovered she had a very serious tumor growing on her C1 & C2 upper cervical nerves. Not really understanding NF and why the doctors couldn’t just remove the tumor led to many Google searches. The Children’s Tumor Foundation website kept coming up on my searches, so I decided to find out what it was all about. Digging a bit further, I discovered the NF Endurance Team.  I thought to myself, ‘I am already somewhat of a runner and this was something I could do to help my daughter!’ I signed up for my first race, the San Jose Rock n Roll Half Marathon and raised over $7,000 for NF research! I was completely hooked.

“My daughter is now eight years old and this awful disorder continues to bring more and more concerns to Ava’s health, but she is going strong. Ava has been my inspiration to keep running and raise money each year to find a cure or better treatment options for her.  Running became a passion and also an outlet in dealing with the stresses of NF. My experience with the team has been so inspiring and literally changed my life. I have met many, many wonderful teammates, friends and families, each with their very own stories and hardships. I no longer felt like I was alone in this world of NF; I had found another family.

“Over the course of my last eight years on the NF Endurance Team, I went from running half marathons to running full 26.2 marathons. I have many wonderful memories from races here in California all the way to New York & New Jersey. I even decided to take it a step further and take on a volunteer lead role in my home town of Sacramento and build a team of runners for the California International Marathon to run on behalf of the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Last year, 2016, our team raised over $50,000! Despite the challenges NF has thrown at us, my family has found the strength to continue through the NF Endurance Team!”

By joining our team you can raise awareness and research funds to find a cure for NF, while receiving training from experienced coaches, entry into a variety of races, fundraising support, and inspiration from our NF Heroes. Find the NF Endurance team on the West Coast at the following races in 2017:

April 30 Big Sur International Marathon

May 13 Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon

June 16 Summer Soltice 10K and Kids Race (Spokane, WA)

July 16 Napa-to-Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon

December 3 California International Marathon

For a full list of upcoming NF Endurance events, visit


(Photo above: Dawn with her daughter Ava, finish line of California International Marathon 2014; photo right: Dawn at the Half Way Point in the Big Sur Marathon 2016, at the famous Bixby Bridge)