In 2004, Courtney Newman ran her first marathon in Philadelphia to honor a dear friend she lost to leukemia. Feeling helpless during his battle, she joined Team in Training, that national team dedicated to making a difference in the lives of those affected by leukemia and lymphoma. One of the top finishers in the race that day was a man named Mike Newman. They met, soon became training partners and then married.
For five years, as a fun way to give back, Courtney and Mike coached the Strides For Hope Marathon team which raised funds for The Cancer Support Community of Central New Jersey. Under their guidance, each participant trained to walk or run the 13.1 or 26.2 mile distance and raise a minimum of $3,000. Fifteen marathons later for Mike (PR Time of 2:36), and eight for Courtney (PR Time of 3:24), the birth of their second child officially made training and traveling to destination races too difficult and they semi-retired in 2010. The months that followed after the birth of their daughter included medical scares with both children which resulted in them truly counting their blessings.
In the Spring of the following year, Courtney's classmate Ian Progin was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. While they only crossed paths with Ian a few times since she high school graduation, they were saddened to hear the news. Courtney and Mike felt helpless, but knew the one thing they could offer was their passion for fundraising and endurance training. So, they created a framework that would help lighten the financial burden placed upon the Progin family during their struggle.
Courtney and Mike were aware of a great race in their hometown that would make it simple for hundreds to come out and walk or run on Ian's behalf, while also benefitting the local cancer community. Ian's cousin, Heather Grande, rallied his family and friends... and the 800 person team, known as Progin's Players, participated in the Steeplechase Distance Run.
The next nine months would be full of calls from families in need asking for fundraising advice. They leveraged the same, succesful framework for the past six teams to benefit others in similar situations. Steps Together was launched in May of 2012. With zero advertising, eight beneficiaries found their way to the website and the greater community responded to support them.
Steps Together is now an annual event.