My Fundraising Page

Being Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
Sep 06, 2018

"People kept telling me that I was brave, and I didn't feel very brave," JulieAnn Villa told runners training for the Chicago marathon in 2015 as she spoke of her second cancer diagnosis within a decade.

"But what I knew is that I could get through whatever chemotherapy or surgery was in front of me. Being an endurance athlete, I was comfortable with being uncomfortable, and I found a way to keep going. It wasn't that I thought I was strong enough to do it, or absolutely knew that I could do it, it was that I found a way to just do it anyway."

This is probably the number one lesson that this lifestyle has taught me over the past decade. You learn how to be "comfortable with being uncomfortable."

I call it "being scrappy" when I'm running an ultramarathon and feel like quitting 10 miles before the finish line. Just dig deep and keep moving forward. It's going to be awful but "embrace the suck." 

During my first season with Team In Training in 2008, I found it not just hard but agonizing to get out a mere three miles.

"It hurts less than chemo," a mentor muttered to me during a mid-distance, less-than-mediocre-effort run.

My God, it does.

I've never had chemo. The closest that I have been is sitting with JulieAnn during a few of her treatments. Walking in with bright violet hair (that I dyed FOR Team In Training fundraising) to at least make all of these unlucky people crack a smile while needles stuck in their arms for four hours at a time. 

And one marathon. One swing at 26.2 miles for just over four hours. Well, that's nothing. Yeah, it can be uncomfortable, but it's not every day for a month, or two or 12. Distance running, even ultramarathons, hurt less than chemo with a heck of a lot fewer side effects.

So, I'm comfortable with being a little uncomfortable too.





2008 to 2018
Aug 21, 2018

Signing up for a first marathon elicits various feelings. There's excitement for the changes in lifestyle that are coming. There's gratitude for the ability to take on a task that many are unable to. Of course, there is fear, anxiety and resentment over the fact that the alarm clock is going to go off earlier than it does for work every Saturday morning through the summer months.

All of those feelings are incredibly worth it once a marathon runner starts believing in his or herself. Seeing the physical and mental changes and overcoming obstacles. Pushing the body further than ever thought possible. And eventually crossing the finish line and becoming a "marathon finisher."

How does it feel when a person has done that year after year for ten years straight? A lot of the initial excitement, anxiety, and fear slips away. The gratitude, however, does not. Especially when it's for a cause.

I've always run my marathons for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Each year since my first in 2008, I have raised funds to find a cure for blood cancer.

Approximately every 3 minutes one person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer, with around 1,345,123 people currently living with the diagnosis.

Because of donors like yourself enabling research to eradicate blood cancer, survival rates have more than doubled since 1960 for the various types of blood cancer.

Each year the Team in Training Chicago Marathon Team strives to raise $1 million toward the fight. Will you help us?

Thank you for your support in my 2008 to 2018 Chicago Marathon for a Cure Campaign. 

Here's some of what I've been up to this training season...

A very happy birthday run with friends over the entire lakefront path (36 miles) in six hours, 41 minutes...

Daily training runs ranging from four to 22 miles...

Up to 80 miles per week on the bike for cross training...

Celebrating the accomplishment of friend, David Mutnick, who raised $200,000 in just 10 weeks for the LLS Man & Woman of the Year Campaign.

Electing new board member at the annual Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Illinois Chapter board meeting.

An Ultra Birthday Celebration
Jul 21, 2018

I ran my first marathon with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program in 2008 after eight months of rigorous training. That was my first Chicago Marathon experience. Though, I remember crossing the finish line, and unlike many participants who are glad that it is all over, I thought to myself, "that's all?"

It wasn't a "that's all" in the sense that it was "only" 26.2 miles, because that distance is a hefty chunk of mileage. It is not to be scoffed at. It was that I had created this new lifestyle pattern that I feared would end a few steps back where I crossed that finish line.

I was determined to not allow that to happen.

I went back in 2009, but felt that I needed to up the ante for 2010. I entered my first 50k (31.1 miles) ultramarathon.

From there, it just took off. I loved the adrenaline and the feel of living ultrarunning provided. The ups and downs provide oneself with a true knowledge and understanding of his or her own body. It was unlike anything I had ever encountered before, and I just wanted to learn more.

Eight years later, I have completed more than 20-ultramarathons ranging in distance from 31.1 miles to 100 miles. The one ultra run that I have always wanted to do, I finally get my chance to.

The Chicago Lakefront Path.

The path that runs along Lake Michigan stretches 18-miles on the eastern border of the city, passing everything from numerous beaches to a zoo to bird sanctuaries, Navy Pier, and plenty of food options. Food carts, beach concessions, the Rainbow Cone kiosk at Navy Pier...

So what better way to celebrate a birthday than to run the path all the way to the end and back?

A total of 36 miles.

I am blessed and grateful to have the ability to run these distances, and I will continue to use them to help promote finding a cure for cancer while (hopefully) inspiring healthy lifestyle choices in all whom I encounter. 

Thanks to all who have supported me all of these years, and thank you to those who are just stopping by for the first time.

My Fundraising Page
Jun 01, 2018



My first marathon was in 2008 with Team in Training. I never thought that I was going to make it even to the finish line of a 13.1-mile half-marathon, but the people whom I had met along the way inspired me more and more each day. 

By participating as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) TNT, I am raising funds to help find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients.

Your donation will help fund treatments that save lives every day; like immnuotherapies that use a person’s own immune system to kill cancer. You may not know it, but every single donation helps save a life with breakthrough therapies such as these.

Please make a donation in support of my efforts with Team In Training and help get us all closer to a world without blood cancers.

Thank you!


Here's my story:

It All Started Because of a Dog...


Supporter Comments

    "Happy birthday lady!!! You're one of the coolest and most inspiring people I know. So lucky to call you my friend. "

    Veronica McCoy

    Mon Jun 11 09:05:06 EDT 2018

    "Good Luck, Jen! Love ya!"

    Kelly Troc

    Thu Sep 06 04:39:51 EDT 2018

    "Jen... We wish you a great run and great success on fundraising for these terrible diseases. Our Love, Aunt Beth & Uncle Wayne"

    Wayne & Beth Jakalski

    Fri Sep 07 05:44:48 EDT 2018

    "Good luck this year, Jen!"

    Frank Whittaker

    Fri Sep 07 11:31:21 EDT 2018

    "Go get 'em DeBibbs!"

    Nadine Sorenson

    Mon Sep 17 10:57:01 EDT 2018

    "Congrats! Love Aunt Ei"

    Eileen Troc

    Sat Sep 29 05:52:53 EDT 2018

Make a Donation

Join Jennifer DeSalvo in the Mission to wipe out blood cancer:

 Titanium $1,000.00
 Platinum $500.00
 Gold $250.00
 Silver $100.00
 Super $50.00
 Star $25.00
 Other $

My Thanks To

Kevin Dailey $250.00
Knockout Fitness 1 LLC $200.00
Paul & Jenna Jakalski $100.00
Wayne & Beth Jakalski $100.00
Eileen Troc $50.00
Frank Whittaker $50.00
Josh Addis $50.00
Veronica McCoy $36.00
Kelly Troc $35.00
Julie Bane $25.00
Nadine Sorenson $25.00
Julie Leone $25.00
Keith Conrad $25.00
Meli Cafe $25.00