Fundraising for the MGFA at the Colfax Marathon
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Running the Denver Colfax Marathon for a World Without Myasthenia Gravis

Running the Denver Colfax Marathon for a World Without Myasthenia Gravis

By Kate Stober

Denver Marathon runners familyJust over a year ago, Dan Rollman was in the ICU fighting for his life. Next month, he’ll be running a marathon.


His experience is a testament to new medical treatments, a stellar team of doctors and nurses, and the strength of the human spirit. 


Dan was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a rare neuromuscular disease, in his late 40s. It came as a shock.  


“When I was diagnosed with MG, I had never even heard of the disease. It took six months to learn how to pronounce it,” Dan says wryly. 


He experienced severe muscle weakness, impacting his ability to talk, chew and swallow food, keep his eyes open, and exercise. 


He could not read bedtime stories to his young daughters because they couldn’t understand his voice, and he lost 35 pounds because he had so much trouble eating. He was unable to work because he couldn’t consistently communicate with others.  


He had taken up running during the pandemic but could no longer enjoy this hobby as the disease took its toll.  


“I endured two of the most challenging years of my life, with many low moments attached.” 


It culminated in an MG exacerbation that put him in the ICU on life support.  


“It was, without question, my closest taste of death. Coming out of the hospital, I found myself overwhelmed by gratitude for life,” Dan shares. 


Fortunately, he began to recover after this hospital stay. He started a new treatment regime that improved his symptoms enormously. 


With deep appreciation for his survival, he began to lean into exercise, appreciating every breath he could now draw deep into his lungs, every step he could take without collapsing.  


He started slowly – recovery from a near-death experience takes time – but he began to run again. 


“After going through a couple of years when my health was severely limited, I celebrated running just a few hundred feet,” he says. 


He was cautious, testing the waters each time he stretched his runs, waiting to see if exercise impacted his symptoms. With time, he felt stronger and healthier than he had since he was first diagnosed. 


“The last 10 months have been pretty darn normal,” Dan says. “I feel grateful for the medical team that has been in my corner. The medications, after some trial and error, seem to be working pretty consistently.” 


The idea of running a marathon has been in his head for a few years now. He signed up for the 2024 Denver Colfax Marathon, less than an hour from his Colorado home.  


He enjoys pushing further and further during training, seeing if he can reach new goals. He ran a personal best 16 miles a couple of weeks ago and will do a 20-mile training run before the race on May 18th. Dan’s wife, Rachel, will run her first half-marathon at the same event. 


“We are both extremely excited, if a little bit nervous, for race day. The training process has been grueling but rewarding. We’ve enjoyed embarking on this adventure together.” 


Both are running for “A World Without Myasthenia Gravis.” They are fundraising to support the MGFA’s mission of creating connections, enhancing lives, improving care, and curing MG. 


“The resources from the MGFA were and continue to be extremely helpful to me and my family. To be able to find sources of education and a community to learn from has been deeply meaningful. We want to find a way to give back to an organization that’s been tremendously helpful to us,” Dan says. 


Dan and Rachel both feel incredibly fortunate for his state of health, and Dan hopes his story will inspire others living with myasthenia gravis to keep the faith for remission.  


“Going through a period in which health limits our physical abilities is brutally difficult, but one must hold faith that there can be light at the end of the tunnel.” 


Want to support Dan’s quest to run 26.2 miles for myasthenia gravis awareness on May 18, 2024? Make a gift to his fundraiser

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