Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Thursday, December 23, 2004
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During 2004, this Web site has tried to provide comprehensive coverage of Muhlenberg College athletics: who won, who lost, who made the big play, who ran the fastest or jumped the farthest, who received postseason honors.

While all of this is important, and the College is very proud of the accomplishments of its student-athletes and teams, it is not the most significant aspect of the Muhlenberg athletic program. Participation in intercollegiate athletics teaches leadership, self-discipline and teamwork and enables students to form close relationships that can last long after their athletic careers are over. Those are the things that matter ... in the long run.

Below is a story of such a relationship between two members of the women’s lacrosse team that started on the practice field four years ago and has grown in ways that neither could have imagined.

Mule Sports Daily will return on Monday, January 3. MSD wishes everyone a happy and safe holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

While most Muhlenberg seniors will spend their final mid-year break traveling to some warm-weather vacation spot, looking for postgraduate jobs or just relaxing at home with family and friends, Allison Marman will be out in the cold December air, running around the streets of Long Island to prepare to honor a friend.

Allison Marman Marman (right)has signed up to run in P.F. Chang’s Rock ’n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in Phoenix on January 9. The marathon is a function of Team in Training, an organization that raises funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with the goals of finding a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma and improving the quality of life of patients and their families.

Marman is running in the name of her former teammate on the Muhlenberg women’s lacrosse team, Kristen Kastner.

It was Marman’s first year in college when Kastner, then a sophomore dual-sport athlete in field hockey and lacrosse, was thought to have mononucleosis because her glands were swollen. From April of 2002 through her entire junior year, Kastner underwent a battery of blood tests, ultrasounds and biopsies in an attempt to pinpoint the problem.

Kristen Kastner The summer after her junior year, Kastner (left) was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She underwent a thyroidectomy and received radiation treatments, leaving her too weak and too far behind to play field hockey as a senior. But when January rolled around, she was all ready for lacrosse.

“Physically, I was just as strong, and mentally, I was even stronger,” said Kastner, whose presence served as an inspiration to her teammates. “[My condition] helped draw the team together. We were up front about it, even with the freshmen. It was definitely not something we dwelled on, but it had a positive impact. You realize that little things aren’t important. If someone had a fight with a roommate, or had a big test coming up, or didn’t want to play because of bad weather – we realized that we were lucky to be healthy and it was a privilege to be able to play.”

Kastner played in every game and served as a team captain for the Mules in 2004, then graduated and returned to her Long Island home of Massapequa.

For the second year in a row, however, the summer brought bad news. The cancer was found to have spread to Kastner’s lymph nodes. On July 22, two days after she was to have started work for Protiviti, an independent risk consulting firm in New York, Kastner underwent a radical neck dissection to remove the cancerous nodes. More radiation treatments followed.

“[The doctors] are pretty confident that they got it all, because of the area it was in and the high dosage they used,” said Kastner. “The chances of it coming back are very slim, especially for my age range and because I’m a female.

“They really won’t be able to tell if the radiation worked for a
Team in Training
Team in Training began in 1988 when a father became inspired to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of his daughter, who was battling leukemia. He gathered a group of first-time runners and a close friend to coach them. The group raised $320,000 to donate to leukemia research. Last year, Team in Training raised more than $80 million.
year, and you’re not considered in remission for five years after the surgery. It’s a little bit of a disappointment not to have something concrete, but hopefully this summer when I get retested the results will be better than last summer.”

Marman’s life changed over the summer too. It began when she got a mailing about Team in Training. “I looked at it, then I went to work and talked to one of the women I was working with,” she recalled. “She mentioned that she did it, 10 years ago, for a little boy with leukemia, and she was telling me how it completely changed her life. So I went to an information session and I was hooked.”

Kastner had just sent out a group e-mail updating her friends when Marman contacted her with the idea of running the Team in Training marathon. “I cried,” said Kastner. “I was really humbled that somebody cared about me that much. I was touched that she would spend all this time and energy in my honor.”

It is an extraordinary amount of time and energy. Marman calls it “one of the most overwhelming things I’ve ever done in my life.” Each runner is given a minimum fundraising goal, with 70 percent of the funds going directly to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for research.

Marman, whose goal was $3,900, estimates that she mailed out about 300 envelopes filled with papers, information and donation forms to “literally every person that my family and I have ever
Allison Marman
“I learned that I can run far longer than I ever expected. I learned that I have a lot more discipline than I thought. And I learned that I’m capable of doing somewhat big things. Taking the time and making the effort to really put myself into something, I realize I can make a difference,” said Marman of her marathon experience.
encountered.” Kastner’s family also pitched in with letters to its friends.

In the true spirit of a college student, Marman made a strong last-minute push and just reached her goal this week.

Then there’s the running. Team in Training brings together people in a geographic area to train together, and assigns them a coach and a mentor. Since Marman wanted to do the final stage of her training at home, she signed up with the Long Island Chapter. But that meant that she was basically on her own while at Muhlenberg, and she hadn’t actually run with her team before finals ended last week.

“I’ve gotten a lot of help and support from my friends,” said Marman. “If I don’t feel like running they’re like, ‘get out there and run.’ They give me my sneakers and shove me out the door.”

One teammate even tried driving her car alongside Marman while she ran as a show of support. “I think Allison found out, like I found out, that this is kind of a personal thing,” commented Kastner.

Marman, who likes to run and always wanted to do a marathon, said the longest run she had ever done before beginning her training was eight or nine miles. “So it’s not completely foreign,” she said, “But I never imagined how hard it would be. I have such a huge understanding of what cross country people do now.”

Kastner and Marman, who although they were teammates did not become close friends until last year, have remained in close contact throughout the training period. Kastner will not be able to make it out to Arizona for the marathon, since she is scheduled to begin a new job – one that requires less traveling – with Deloitte & Touche on January 3, but she plans to call Marman the morning of the run.

Kastner, who follows the advice of her doctors to live as normal a life as
Kristen Kastner
“The outpouring of support was phenomenal,” said Kastner of her teammates on the 2004 lacrosse team. “It was kind of like that before, but everyone really rose to the occasion.”
possible and exercises regularly, hopes to run in the Allentown Half-Marathon in late April, which Marman and others at Muhlenberg are trying to turn into a Team in Training event.

So why go to all this trouble? “Yeah, the running sucks,” said Marman. “And having to call people left and right and remind them about the forms I sent them, that sucks too. It’s been a huge, huge time-consuming thing in my life, but it's nothing, nothing compared to what some of these people go through and what Kristen has gone through and is going through and will continue to go through until who knows how long. [The marathon] is a little thing in comparison and has put everything in my life in perspective and made me feel a little bit better about what I’ve been doing in my life.

“I can’t think about it without crying,” she added. “A lot of it is the fact that I’ve seen so much support from my family and friends who have never even met Kristen, never experienced what she’s experienced, never thought twice about donating to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and have stepped up and helped in so many ways. My family, my friends, my church community, the College – everyone has shown such intense support that it renewed my faith in people and their ability to mobilize and join forces.”

To Kastner, Marman’s participation in the marathon is a natural extension of being part of an athletic team. “I think people who haven’t been on a team don’t understand. They only see the wins and losses and don’t see kids who are multifaceted. But you see these people at their best and you see them at their worst. You get to be family with them and you support them unconditionally. And when one of them is hurting it’s natural to try to help and support them.

“It starts on the practice field and goes to games and off the field and it stays with you after you graduate.”

To contribute to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on behalf of Allison Marman and Kristen Kastner, go to the Team in Training Web site and enter Allison’s runner number of 203812. Or, send her an e-mail at

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Last updated December 23, 2004