A race to 50 states: How one woman’s battle with ALS is inspiring others

Michigan

GLADSTONE, Mich. (WJMN) – Andrea Lytle Peet has always been competitive. She has completed one marathon, nine triathlons and a half IronMan all before the age of 33.

But her world was flipped upside down by three letters…ALS.

“I really want to raise awareness about ALS and appreciate what my body can still do for as long as possible,” Andrea Lytle Peet said.

After being told her life expectancy would only be two to five more years and with no known treatment or cure to ALS, Andrea bought a recumbent trike and set off to what she thought would be her last race ever.

“In my opinion, when she did that race, that first race that she thought she wouldn’t be able to do after she was diagnosed, she really proved it to herself and from there it was about proving to others that they could do the same thing regardless of what challenges they had,” Dave Peet, her husband said.

What should have been her final race turned into the most extraordinary day of her life. She has now set a goal for herself to complete one marathon in each of the 50 U.S. states; a lifetime goal for some runners, but if Andrea were to complete this goal, she would be the first person with ALS to do so.

A map Andrea Peet keeps to keep track of her races. She can now check off Michigan, which brings her to a total of 34 states.

“I just feel like I have been given the gift of time which most people with ALS don’t get,” Andrea Lytle Peet said. “I can move my arms and legs and I can use my voice so I can be a spokesperson for ALS. It is a terrible disease, I am thankful to be able to do this.”

While many of the miles were spent solo on Saturday at the MISH Waterfront Marathon in Gladstone, Andrea wasn’t alone.

“My best friend from high school, her son was diagnosed with ALS in 2014 and at that time I wanted to do something so within a couple of years I was running and I decided to try and raise some funds for ALS in his name,” Sue Girard-Jackson, a half marathon athlete, said.

Now with more than 100 half marathons under her belt all in the name of ALS, Marquette runner, Sue Girard-Jackson, was able to run along side someone with the same end goal – raising awareness for ALS.

“It is just amazing to me what she has done and what she is still planning to do and her attitude and her drive to just be better,” Girard-Jackson said.

These “sole” sisters met for the first time after the race on Saturday. The reason they both run will carry them for miles to come.

“It feels great every time. It doesn’t get old, it doesn’t get less exciting for her to raise her arms as she finishes and to hear the cheers of brand new people who are coming into her story for the very first time,” Dave Peet said.

Andrea serves as an inspiration too many, ensuring to make each step count.

“I hope that people will get out there and try new stuff out and just explore. We have so much to be thankful for,” Andrea Lytle Peet said.

Andrea will be staying in the midwest as she will take on her next two races in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

For more information about Andrea and her foundation Team Drea click here.

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