COLUMBUS (WCMH) – It’s a journey two years in the making for one central Ohio runner, to race in the Boston Marathon.

After the 2020 marathon was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kristen Foley wasn’t sure she’d get to fulfill her dream to take part in the iconic race, but now she’s just days away from stepping off the starting line.

In 2019, Foley started what she calls a mission manifest, creating a bucket list of goals she wanted to achieve. Running the Boston Marathon was top on that list.

As a charity runner, Foley is putting the final touches on her training before the race Oct. 11. Her motivation to reach the finish line is fueled by a cause very close to her heart.

“I run, but I’m not a fast runner,” she admits.

Foley realized her dream to run in the marathon could become a reality as a charity runner for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

“And I thought what an amazing way to bring recognition to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society while still getting to my dream,” she said.

Foley’s father was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014, so she set a goal to raise $25,000 for her team in training for the 2020 Boston Marathon.

“And I did it, but then, of course, it was canceled,” she said.

But she persevered, running the marathon on her own here in Columbus along Boston Avenue in Bexley last fall.

“Cancer didn’t stop during the pandemic,” Foley said. “If anything, it became more important for the funds.”

This year, she continued fundraising to find a cure and to get to run alongside 20,000 participants 26.2 miles through the street of Boston.

“I’ve just had people rally behind me,” Foley said. “I’ve had great businesses supporting me locally.”

Feeling the physical affects of her training, Foley found a local chiropractor who has also earned a spot in the marathon as a competitive runner.

“Remembering that we’re all out there for the same reason,” she said of the woman who has become a friend and a motivator.

“Some of us have causes like Kristen that are just amazing and noble and just being there and enjoying every minute of it and being grateful to be part of something that big is what it’s all about,” said chiropractor Dr. Christina Murphy.

With her dad in mind with every step, Foley remembers she’s racing for a cause much bigger than herself.

“He’s been so strong through all of this,” she said through tears. “And I’m so proud to be his daughter.”

Understanding that she’ll be emotional on race day, Foley went to Boston a few weeks ago to visit the finish line and mentally prepare herself for the moment she’ll cross it. She is also the first runner from central Ohio to be chosen to run for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society team of 35 runners.