New York, October 25, 2022 – New York Road Runners (NYRR) announced today Team Inspire, a collection of 2022 TCS New York City Marathon runners from diverse backgrounds – spanning ages, paces, genders, abilities, and hometowns – who represent the magic of running, embodying athletes’ “why” and reason for putting one foot in front of the other.
Selected from a marathon field of over 50,000 runners – which marks the return to full capacity for the first time since 2019 – Team Inspire is a tapestry of what makes the TCS New York City Marathon so special. The group includes runners tackling 26.2 miles for the first time, streakers who have yet to miss a first Sunday in November, charity runners putting purpose behind their miles, participants who are overcoming challenges with the help of running, and athletes breaking barriers.
Team Inspire members include:
- Noor Abukaram of Sylvania, Ohio – A college student, advocate, and runner whose story captivated the nation in 2019 when she was disqualified from a high school cross country race for wearing a hijab. Noor will be running her first marathon with her parents.
- Jorge Luis Aguilar of Kingsbridge, the Bronx, N.Y. – A practicing child psychologist in his home borough who, despite growing up in the poorest congressional district in the country and living below the poverty line, became a first-generation college and medical school graduate. He’s running his first marathon as a proud member of the Boogie Down Bronx Run Club.
- Jon A. Auty of North Haledon, N.J. – He is running his third New York City Marathon (his last one was 40 years ago) at the age of 78 to honor and remember the love of his life, Bev, who was diagnosed with cancer and died a month short of her 78th birthday in 2021. They had a storybook marriage, having met at a wedding rehearsal dinner and becoming engaged six days later when Jon said to Bev, “What would you say if I asked you to marry me?” to which Bev replied, “What would you say if I said yes?” Jon will be running with his daughter D’ann for Fred’s Team.
- Berkley Cameron of Chicago – No stranger to marathons, she has run over 50 of them while raising more than $50K to bring awareness to animal rescue across the country. Berkley began her animal rescue journey 12 years ago by volunteering at various shelters, and more recently she created One Love Foundation Inc. The 501(c)(3) provides crucial funds for spay/neuter clinics in Aruba, where there are 30,000 stray dogs and cats.
- Jake Caswell of Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan, N.Y. – A former Columbia University student-athlete and current Front Runners New York (FRNY) member, they are part of the sub-elite field of the marathon and hope to break 2:35. Since the non-binary category was introduced at NYRR, they have had a much more positive racing experience and feel it’s essential for people to have the opportunity to run as their authentic selves.
- Raymond Choy of Elmhurst, Queens, N.Y. – A 71-year-old Achilles International athlete who will be completing his 24th consecutive New York City Marathon. A construction accident in 1993 left him permanently disabled and as part of his recovery, he began jogging. He was inspired to run the marathon after seeing a former love interest on TV cheering for the runners.
- Jack Cummings of Oxfordshire, England – A 34-year-old veteran with the British Army, Jack was hit with an IED and woke up in the hospital a month later with no recollection of the incident that resulted in the amputation of his legs. After spending almost 6 months in the hospital followed by 3.5 years in a rehabilitation center, he was selected to join Prince Harry’s Invictus Games where he won the bronze medal for swimming. Jack is currently part of Making Generation Resilience, where he speaks to students about his incredible journey.
- Nick Dill of Washington Heights, Manhattan, N.Y. – They weren’t drawn to sports growing up due to the toxic masculine energy of most teams and wonder if there had been more visibility for queer and non-binary people back then, would their running journey have started earlier. A member of Front Runners New York (FRNY), Nick came out as non-binary in 2019 and is grateful to register and show up to race as their full self.
- Carla Drumbeater of St. Louis Park, Minn. – A member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, she joined the Army when she was 18 and at the end of basic training was able to run 10 miles. Eventually, Carla’s running tapered off and she later developed diabetes. As an ICU Respiratory Therapist, the pandemic took a toll on her mental, emotional, and physical health, so Carla joined Native Strength Revolution, an organization that teaches Indigenous people how to be healthy. She became a yoga instructor and now trains fellow healthcare workers and other Indigenous people, while herself losing 50 pounds and reversing her diabetes through marathon training.
- Natalie Edmundson of St. John’s, Fla. – A 1997 graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., she was inspired to take action after a shooting there left 17 students and teachers dead in 2018. She, along with other alumni, fundraised for the school and lent their support to March For Our Lives, a youth-led movement dedicated to ending the gun violence epidemic. Suddenly aware of her own mortality, Natalie channeled her emotions into exercise, lost 130 pounds, and is running her first marathon in support of Sandy Hook Promise, a charity devoted to keeping kids safe in schools.
- Thomas Eller of Essen, Germany – On a mission to become the first person born deaf to become an Abbott World Marathon Majors Six Star Finisher, Thomas will accomplish this feat when he completes the Tokyo Marathon in 2023. As a teacher for deaf and deaf-blind students, Thomas hopes to show the Deaf and hard of hearing community that they can do anything they set their minds to.
- Passle Helminski of Erie, Penn. – Twenty-nine years ago while training for the New York City Marathon, she was assaulted in a parking lot and suffered a stroke among other serious physical injuries. Disproving doctors who said she wouldn’t survive, she relearned how to speak and regained movement on her right side, and now will run her first marathon in a full circle moment, showing that people with disabilities can achieve anything.
- Costa Ioannou of Whitestone, Queens, N.Y. – He is running for CURE Epilepsy in honor of his daughter Joanna, who died in her sleep from SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy) at the age of 9. In 2021 Costa teamed up with Libby and Victor Boyce, the parents of late Disney actor Cameron Boyce, who passed away from the same condition as Joanna, to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness for SUDEP and epilepsy. November 6, the date of this year’s marathon, falls on the fourth anniversary of Joanna’s death and Costa knows she will be with him every step of the way.
- Marva Joseph and Marie Young of Canarsie, Brooklyn, N.Y. – Known as the “Canarsie Duo” to NYRR Open Run participants, Marva and Marie met at a Brooklyn gym in 2015 and a year later signed up to be volunteer Run Captains at Canarsie Park Open Run. Neither considered herself a “runner” at the time, but thanks to Open Run and volunteering at the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon, they became motivated to try long distances. Together they are on a mission to complete all six of the Abbott World Marathon Majors.
- Rome Leykin of Stamford, Conn. – In 2018, he had a seizure on his way to work, fell on the subway tracks, and was hit by a train, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury. Rome’s legs were amputated, but he discovered Achilles International during his rehabilitation and later took up handcycling. He’s training to become a motivational and educational speaker for kids with disabilities and will be participating in his second TCS New York City Marathon.
- Kenny Lloyd of South Harlem, Manhattan, N.Y. – Using running to connect to his grandfather and father, who both ran for therapy, Kenny is a third-generation Black man running his first marathon. Through his marathon journey he hopes to share his family’s story of Black fatherhood, community, and generations of Black men running. Kenny will be lacing up his sneakers alongside his father and girlfriend.
- Anibal Montes of Miami – After receiving death threats amidst a culture of drug-related violence in Colombia, Anibal moved to the United States at age 18 in search of a better life. He went on to pursue higher education and graduated from Georgetown University where he mentored high school students, inspiring him to run with NYRR Team for Kids for his first marathon.
- Veronica Morabito-Weeks and Tara Dungate of Hauppauge, N.Y. – Ten years ago during Hurricane Sandy, Veronica lost her house and car, and started jogging as a way to complete her errands. Working her way up to longer distances, Veronica has now run four TCS New York City Marathons and will run this year with Tara, her co-teacher, training partner, and fellow Rising New York Road Runners coach at Bretton Woods Elementary School, where they are both part of the Team TCS Teachers program. Annually, 50 teachers from across the United States and Canada receive a VIP opportunity to run the TCS New York City Marathon.
- Ayumi Nagano of Charlotte, N.C. – After a toxic track & field coach in high school made inappropriate comments about her weight, Ayumi struggled with an eating disorder, addiction, and depression, worsened by bullying. Her running was sporadic until she coached a high school cross country team, sparking her joy of the sport again. In addition to increasing representation for runners of color, Ayumi is running her first TCS New York City Marathon to show her younger self that she can persevere.
- Maryam Naghavi of San Francisco – Running to represent the voices and faces of all Iranian women who are voiceless and faceless, Maryam has used running as a coping mechanism and a way to alleviate depression.
- Richard Newman of San Antonio – Having completed the New York City Marathon 25 times, Richard, 75, will be running his 75th marathon to spread awareness about the lifesaving ability of CPR after a near-death experience in 2015. His wife administered CPR for 13 minutes after he suffered a heart attack and before EMS arrived and was able to save his life.
- Gina-Marie Principe, Amanda Buatti, Deni Marie Crowley of Staten Island, N.Y. – These Staten Island elementary school teachers are tackling their first marathon for a local charity, Michael’s Cause. The trio hopes to bring awareness to the importance of teachers and student mental health through their running journey.
- Stephen Wertheimer of Los Angeles – Last year he was the marathon’s oldest finisher at 83 and is back this year for his 39th New York City Marathon. Stephen will be running with his daughter Erin – the two bonded through running when Erin was 13 and they used the sport as a way to cope with family illness.
About New York Road Runners (NYRR)
NYRR’s mission is to help and inspire people through running. Since 1958, New York Road Runners has grown from a local running club to the world’s premier community running organization. NYRR’s commitment to New York City’s five boroughs features races, virtual races, community events, free youth running initiatives and school programs, the NYRR RUNCENTER featuring the New Balance Run Hub, and training resources that provide hundreds of thousands of people each year with the motivation, know-how, and opportunity to Run for Life. NYRR’s premier event is the TCS New York City Marathon. Held annually on the first Sunday in November, the race features a wide population of runners, from the world’s top professional athletes to a vast range of competitive, recreational, and charity runners. To learn more, visit www.nyrr.org.