CHARLESTON, W.Va. - When Missy Spangler pledged to run the New York City Marathon to raise money for Parkinson's disease research, she knew she would have a lot to contend with.
Now 30, she hadn't run regularly since college. She never had run a marathon, and this would be the nation's largest. And she didn't really know how to raise all that money. But she didn't care.
She didn't expect she would have to deal with a massive hurricane and the cancellation of the marathon. But in the end, she was OK with that, too.
Spangler's father, Terry, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2001. He has fought a progressive battle with the disease and is now confined to bed and unable to speak. Missy's mom and sister live with him and are his primary caregivers.
"I'm just not good as a caregiver; it's not my strength," she said. "But I still wanted to be doing something to help."
So in March, the Ripley resident joined Team Fox - a branch of the Michael J. Fox Foundation that helps athletes organize fundraising efforts for Parkinson's research. She made a pledge to run the marathon in November, raising funds as she trained, and started a blog to document her adventures.
It was a fitting way to contribute, she thought. Her dad had volunteered to coach her cross-country team in high school, when Missy wanted to run but there was no one else to coach the team. The two had always bonded over athletics.
"We always joked that I was like the son he never had," Missy said.
It looked like it might all be for naught, though, when Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on New York City last week, four days before the race was to take place. As the city tried to register some semblance of normalcy in the days following the storm, the marathon became one of the most controversial topics.
Should it go on? Would holding the race be a celebration of the city's ability to persevere or a twisted celebration of the devastating hurricane?
Missy watched it all unfold back home in West Virginia, frustrated and confused about her role in the controversy.
On Thursday, she wrote a blog post titled "I'm in to finish 2012."