South Philadelphia woman competes in Ironman to help fight cancer

Wednesday, July 15, 2015
VIDEO: S. Phila. woman competes in triathalons to help fight cancer
A woman from South Philadelphia pushes through Ironman triathlons in honor of those close to her who have battled cancer.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Every stroke, every spin, and every step Keli Engleson takes has a purpose.

The South Philadelphia resident fights through the 140.6 miles in a triathlon to help fight multiple myeloma - the second most common form of blood cancer.

"When I hit a wall, the first thing I think is why I'm doing this," said Engleson.

Engleson swims 2.4 miles, bikes 112 miles and runs another 26.2 miles in honor of her Aunt Mary - who suffers from multiple myeloma.

She also competes in memory of her friend Kara, who died just eight months ago from breast cancer at the age of 34.

Whenever Engleson gets tired, she reads the note Kara gave her right before she died.

"Every time I bike uphill and I feel like I'm struggling, I remember her voice, I remember her cheering me on and it pushes me through," she said.

Engleson is gearing up for the Ironman competition in Lake Placid, New York in less than two weeks by training on Kelly Drive.

Her goal is to raise $35,000.

For anyone who contributes at least $140.60, the same number as the total distance of the triathlon, Engleson will put a temporary tattoo of their name on her body.

"Anytime I struggle, I'll look down and see my Aunt Mary's name and Kara's name and I'll remember that this was my choice. I won't complain for any second during this race," said Engleson.

The 35-year-old is roughly $15,000 shy of her goal with 11 days to go.

One step, one spin, and one stroke at a time, Engleson hopes to reach her goal, cross that finish line and kiss cancer goodbye.

For more information and to donate to Engleson's cause: