Eastlake resident Marilee Foley, 46, has fought her personal battle with multiple sclerosis for eight and a half years. The ongoing battle, however, doesn’t stop her from racing.
Foley raises funds and awareness when she competes in events coordinated by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. One of the races she competes in yearly is the San Diego International Triathlon.
“I had to raise $2,500 to participate in the triathlon for the MS Society,” she said. “The money goes for research and I wear the gear with the MS logo to further promote the cause.”
Foley was diagnosed with the disease in 2003, but her athleticism keeps her strong.
“Running has always been my drug of choice,” she said. “Two years ago I got really sick and after my recovery I decided to buy a bike and take up triathlons because I couldn’t run full marathons any more.”
What motivates her to finish any race and compete in any event is the focus and motivation to fight back against her disease.
“You just have to be focused on the positives,” she said. “That’s why I try to raise money. It’s not easy, but like anything else in life you don’t have a choice. You have to make a conscious choice to continue to move forward.”
Foley trains every day, sometimes twice a day. She said training is a very important part of her daily routine when she’s well enough.
Even though it’s been a long run for Foley, she still remembers every step of the way.
“I’ve lived in Chula Vista for 23 years and ran my first marathon about 17 years ago on behalf of the Leukemia Society before I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis,” she said.
“When I ran that first marathon I qualified for the Boston Marathon.”
When Foley was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and started to undergo treatment, it became nearly impossible for her to qualify again and she said she was pretty devastated.
“I left teaching this past year because it’s a very stressful job and it just wasn’t helping my disease,” she said. “I’ve taught at several different elementary schools in Chula Vista but I had finished my last 12 years in Eastlake at Olympic View.”
A mother of five, Foley uses the strength she gains to overcome her condition and move forward.
“I began to accept the fact that this is a part of my life and made the decision that I might have MS but I’m not going to give in,” she said. “Multiple sclerosis doesn’t have me. It’s part of who I am but it’s not who I am. You have to make that decision and you have to keep going and keep active.”