Being active is more than a hobby for Claire Romine. It’s more than a job, too, even though she graduated in May from the University of Delaware with a master’s degree in clinical exercise physiology. For her, physical activity is part of a recipe for healthy living – and a way to support others fighting for their own lives.
Romine is halfway through a seven-week journey running across the country to raise money for young adults with cancer. She began in San Francisco in June and will end next month in Baltimore.
Along the way, she’s running 10 to 13 miles a day with a team of runners and cyclists participating in the 4K for Cancer, a program of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Nearly a month in, Romine has crossed the border of her fifth state. She remains energetic, despite hot weather and high altitudes along the way.
“Ran with one of my favorite people today and made it to our last night in Colorado! Not much scenery today and the mountains are starting to disappear as we make our way East,” she wrote in a recent post on her Facebook page, where she is chronicling her trip.
Ulman is a Baltimore-based organization that focuses on creating a support community for young adults with cancer and their loved ones. This age group faces unique challenges when battling cancer, including fertility preservation, delayed diagnosis, social isolation and more. The 4K for Cancer, in its 17th year, organizes these trips to raise money, inspire hope and unite people to fight against cancer.
Romine’s interest in supporting cancer patients is personal. Her mother, Kathy, was diagnosed with breast cancer when Romine was a high school senior. Although now cancer-free for five years, Kathy Romine endured surgery and eight months of chemotherapy while juggling the typical challenges of making her daughter’s track meets and lacrosse games.
In college, Romine worked as a camp counselor at a camp for children going through oncology treatments. She also participated in UDance each of her four years as an undergraduate at UD. After graduation, she decided to pursue her master’s degree in exercise physiology with the goal of working with oncology patients.
Romine was part of the second cohort of students in the M.S. in Clinical Exercise Physiology program. This one-year, professional graduate program, which started in 2016, allows students to take classes and participate in clinical rotations at the same time. Students spend more than 500 hours working with patients in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, pediatric cardiology and weight management, exercise counseling, health coaching and more.
“After this, I hope to work with people in the cancer field or cardiac rehab,” said Romine, who raised nearly $15,000 for Ulman before leaving Delaware. “I’ve always been an exercise enthusiast. To see people other making progress and to see where they can go from day one is pretty cool. They might hate me the first day but they can do so much. It gives everyone hope.”
Brittany Overstreet, coordinator of the Clinical Exercise Physiology graduate program, said Romine was a driving force in the push to include an oncology rehabilitation rotation in the program, something that’s currently in the works.
“Claire is a great example of taking the core competencies obtained during her graduate studies and putting them into practice,” Overstreet said. “She is doing a wonderful job of not only using exercise as medicine, but using exercise as awareness and service.”
There aren’t many people who could keep up the challenge of running the equivalent of a half-marathon nearly every day for seven weeks. But Romine isn’t focused on her own physical endurance – it’s the perseverance of cancer patients that keeps her going.
“The people we have met along the way are amazing and everybody is astounded at what we’ve been doing,” she said. “It’s definitely very tiring not sleeping or eating a lot but it’s a great experience.”
To donate to Claire’s campaign, visit here.
You can follow along on Claire Romine’s journey from San Francisco to Baltimore by following her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/claires4krun/. Here are some of her recent dispatches from the road:
7/5 – Definitely a different kind of 4th of July this year. Ran another 13 miles from Moab, Utah to Telluride, Colorado. I ran for Jerry Roland, a person near and dear to my heart who unfairly lost his battle with cancer. I couldn’t think of a better day to dedicate to him.
7/2 – Bumped up our mileage and ran a half marathon today finishing at just over 13 miles for the day. We crossed over the state border yet again and made it to a small town in Utah who opened their church doors for us. We were hosted to an amazing meal that all of us needed & are so thankful for all of our hosts along this journey.
6/28 – Another amazing day! Kingsman, AZ —> Prescott, AZ Finally we were able to run the historic Route 66 & stopped along the way to meet some amazing people who were interested in our run & why we were the only people coming through their town dripping sweat in matching uniforms. We then were treated to an amazing home cooked meal followed by a well deserved beer at a local brewery.