Two OCRA Heroes are committed to pushing the limits of their physical endurance as a show of solidarity for our community this spring. Ethan Willey from Arizona and Mark Everitt from Connecticut will be taking on swimming, biking and running in order to complete a daunting 70.3 miles during two separate Half Ironman events — one in Oceanside, California, and the other in Mont-Tremblant, Canada. Though they don’t know each other, the two men have a shared goal: helping all those impacted by ovarian cancer by raising funds for critical research and support programs.
Ethan Willey: IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside
Ethan has summoned the determination to tackle this test of endurance by drawing upon the memory of his beloved mother, Michelle Willey, who passed away from stage 4 ovarian cancer. Though she was given a prognosis of just one month when she was first diagnosed in 2018, she far surpassed that oncologist’s expectations, living for another two-and-a-half years.
“I saw a bravery and toughness in her that exceeded anything I had witnessed before. Battling cancer required even more strength and energy than even the most intense physical feats like an Ironman,” Ethan noted. “I was my mother’s primary caretaker for around six months, and directly seeing her strength and courage inspires me to know that, like she always said, ‘I can do hard things.’”
With one Ironman already under his belt, Ethan will be racing in his second on April 1st in Oceanside, California. This time around, the competition holds special significance because he will be running in memory of his mom — and in honor of the entire ovarian cancer community. “I hope that my support of OCRA can help provide hope, courage, and strength to those battling ovarian cancer, and those close to them,” Ethan said. “Whether by discovering new treatment, a future cure, or providing support to those who need it, I hope this can be accomplished.”
Mark Everitt: IRONMAN 70.3 Mont-Tremblant
For Mark Everitt, his wife has been the catalyst for his commitment to compete in the rigorous Ironman 70.3 in Mont-Tremblant, Canada, on June 25th. Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2019, Sarah Everitt has endured numerous therapies since that time, enrolling in clinical trials and undergoing many treatment cycles. “The [Ironman] training is going to be long and difficult, but it is nothing compared to what Sarah goes through each and every week,” Mark noted.
Witnessing what his wife has experienced as a result of her diagnosis made Mark resolute in helping the ovarian cancer community as a whole. “I have learned so much about this difficult disease over the last four years,” Mark said. “We need to develop new treatments, better support networks, and make the medical process easier for all patients and their families.”
As Mark gears up to tackle 70.3 miles and do his part in helping to fund the search for a cure, he has some words of encouragement for those currently navigating an ovarian cancer diagnosis. “Your path is your individual path, and focus on that each and every day. Do not let cancer dominate.”
Want to start your own fundraiser to benefit the ovarian cancer community? Whether you are into endurance sports or something else entirely, we can help you turn your passion into purpose!