May. 07, 2018

Marlo Hemminger: Going the Distance for Lupus

This profile is part of a series highlighting runners who are participating in the Team Make Your Mark program to train for and run a race while raising funds to help solve the cruel mystery of lupus. In 2018, there will be two official team events – the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle in June and Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia in September – and participants can choose from a variety of distances. In addition, participants can join the Choose Your Own Race team to run or walk in any race or distance of their preference. For more information, please visit

Shortly after Marlo Hemminger was born in 1986, her mom Mary was diagnosed with lupus. Throughout her mom’s life and to this day, Marlo has supported her through every health challenge she has faced because of the disease. Now, she is aiming to finish her first full marathon through Team Make Your Mark – Choose Your Own Race in honor of her mother at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon on May 20.

“Training for this race has been an amazing journey, and I’m proud to do something for my Mom since she has always supported me,” said Marlo. “I can’t imagine what my life would be like without my Mom and raising funds to support lupus research is one way of giving back for all that she has done for me, plus I get the opportunity to represent the lupus community by wearing my purple!”

Mary has struggled with kidney problems since her diagnosis and in 2006, she had to have a kidney transplant. She was fortunate that her brother Bernie was a perfect match and the operation was a success. Thankfully, after the transplant, Mary has not required any further dialysis.

Although her flares have been infrequent, she has had continuing struggles with her joints and had to have both hips replaced in 1988 due to side effects from the prednisone steroids that she was taking during her treatment. She has also had ongoing issues with her shoulder joints but hopes to never have to get a replacement.

Mary has been an inspiration for Marlo throughout her life, and even though she has only finished a half marathon previously, she felt that training for and completing a full marathon would give her the opportunity to raise awareness and generate funds for lupus research through donations from family and friends.

“This opportunity has allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and push myself beyond excuses and self-imposed limitations, now I know that I am capable of achieving this goal and supporting my Mom and the entire lupus community in the process,” said Marlo.

Marlo aims to raise $2,500 through her fundraising efforts, and she has raised more than $2,000 so far. While her family and friends may not all be familiar with the disease, many people are donating because they recognize that it is important to Marlo.

Mary is in good health now and plans to travel from her home in Omaha, Nebraska to Cleveland, Ohio for the race. As she says, "I think it is wonderful that Marlo is doing this – lupus does not get the attention that it deserves and knowing that my daughter is willing to take on a huge challenge like the marathon to help make a difference means a lot to me. Go, Marlo!"