Meet Our Coach
Team Make Your Mark Coach Dan Walmer
Dan Walmer is a certified Road Runners Club of America Marathon coach who has helped hundreds of runners to complete their races.
He has worked with athletes and aspiring athletes at all fitness levels—from those walking a 5k for the first time to those running a 50 mile ultramarathon competitively.
He has run over 40 marathons, with a personal best of 3h42min. Dan loves helping seasoned runners improve, but his passion is coaching those who are new to running, especially when it is for a personal cause.
As a person with lupus, nothing is more personal to him than helping solve the cruel mystery.
Better treatments that will help extend the length and the quality of patient lives will help him to spend more time with his lovely wife Amanda, two children Benjamin and Abby, and his spunky little dog Taco.
Besides running to fight lupus, Dan's hobbies include reading, watching sports, playing chess with his son, and eating all the Mexican food.
He believes that all things happen for a reason, and while he isn’t excited to be living with lupus, he is thrilled to have met so many amazing people battling this disease and excited to stand side by side with them in this fight!
In 2008 I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I was a former athlete, but the decade after college led to a sedentary lifestyle and I ballooned to 280 pounds. I began running that year with the goal of losing weight and counteracting the effects of diabetes.
I did not like running at first, but I loved the fringe benefits of being slimmer, strengthening friendships with other runners, and my diabetes being completely managed as I lost nearly 80 pounds that first year. I didn’t plan on it, but I had become a runner!
The next few years, I fell in love with running as I came to understand the positive impact it could have in people’s lives.
From overweight, amateur runner to coach and advocate
I became a certified marathon coach through the Road Runners Club of America and began coaching with a local running club in Houston, Texas. I ran 5k, 10k, and half marathon races nearly every month, and three to four marathons a year. I even ran three ultra-marathons of fifty miles or more.
I could not get enough of running!
It kept me healthy and gave me confidence that I could achieve anything. It gave me some deep and loyal friendships, and it eventually became that rare thing that woke me up early and excited each morning.
I began seeking a career that would let me use running to help make a positive impact on people’s lives.
I was already working in the non-profit world as a fundraiser when the opportunity arose to take a job helping runners raise money for charity.
I managed the fundraising side of the program, but the runner in me couldn’t stay away from the race course, fundraising for and running 6 marathons in my time there. After I moved on to a job at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, I continued to run to fight blood cancer and even became a certified coach, training others to race and raise.
I have loved helping people get fit and accomplish their physical goals, but more importantly raise funds for a cause that truly saves lives.
Life threw me a curveball: lupus nephritis
As life sometimes does, in late January of 2016, I was thrown a curveball. I toed the starting line for the Houston marathon in good shape, expecting some good results, but this time it didn't turn out that way.
I began intense cramping at mile 17, something that has never happened to me before. I walked the last 9 miles of the course, finishing with my slowest time since my very first race.
Over the next two months I battled what I thought was “flu”, struggling with fatigue, aching, and low grade fevers that I could not shake. My doctor said that I needed to rest, and I reluctantly took a break from running. When I tried to start up again, it was met with disastrous results.
I passed out at work one morning and wound up in the emergency room with extremely high blood pressure. Body scans revealed nothing, but the extensive tests they did that day showed some life-threatening signs of kidney failure. A biopsy shortly afterwards, and the appearance of the dreaded butterfly rash on my face finally got me some answers.
The diagnosis was lupus.
My kidneys were at stage 4 nephritis (stage 5 could be permanent and irreversible damage) with dialysis and eventual transplant as the only long term options. I began a host of medications that are all part of lupus treatment, including low dose chemotherapy, high does steroids, antimalarial drugs, blood pressure medications and antibiotics.
Let's get ready to race and raise!
I am currently still in treatment, and not able to run at my previous level. This has been hugely frustrating, but I have found another outlet, putting my energy into coaching others to race and raise for the Lupus Foundation of America.
I have personally fundraised over $11,000 so far, and I look forward with much excitement to coaching others who have a connection to this disease and encouraging them in their battle with lupus!
Together we can “make our mark” and help the Lupus Foundation of America raise critical dollars for research and education program, getting us closer to solving this cruel mystery.