Press Releases

Seattle, WA - Mar 25, 2024

Runner Completes “2 Half Marathons, 2 Coasts, 2 Days” in support of BRI and Autoimmune Disease Awareness

Gretchen Schoenstein achieved an extraordinary feat completing two half marathons on opposite coasts in two days. Schoenstein ran the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon in Washington, D.C., on March 16, 2024. The next day, she flew to Portland that night to complete the Shamrock Half Marathon Run in Portland, Oregon. Her remarkable effort is a personal triumph and a significant fundraising endeavor, as she has raised more than $10,000 so far for the Benaroya Research Institute (BRI), a global leader in human immunology research.

Featured Gretchen Schoenstein Shamrock 2024 Editorial
Gretchen Schoenstein at the Finish Line of the Shamrock Run

“I’ve always been about challenging myself to do impossible things,” said Schoenstein. “These two races tested my endurance and abilities, but they were just a glimpse into what we can overcome with determination and a heart full of hope. Each race and the journey between them brought me into contact with individuals who opened up about their own battles with autoimmune diseases or their loved ones' struggles. It's a powerful reminder that every step I take is not just for my own journey but for the countless others who are part of this shared battle.”

A seasoned runner and autoimmune disease warrior, Gretchen has lived with autoimmune diseases since she was nine years old. Despite being told she might never run again after being diagnosed with Sarcoidosis in 2006, which affects both the lungs and joints, she has now completed her 121st and 122nd half marathons. 

Gretchen's participation in these events coincides with March, Autoimmune Disease Awareness Month, highlighting the challenges those living with autoimmune conditions face. Autoimmune diseases affect one in 10 Americans. These diseases have no cure, and most treatments target the symptoms but not the actual cause of the disease. By supporting BRI, she contributes to the research that could one day lead to a cure for more than 110 autoimmune diseases, including Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS) and type 1 diabetes (T1D). 

Established in 1956 and located in Seattle, BRI is at the forefront of immune system and autoimmune disease research. BRI takes a holistic approach to autoimmune diseases, studying the entire immune system and using insights about one disease to make progress against others. Over the decades, BRI has made significant strides in understanding the immune system, including the development of MHC class II tetramer technology in the 1990s, which revolutionized the ability to track specific immune cells. In recent years, BRI has broadened its mission to include personalized medicine and prevention strategies, emphasizing collaboration to accelerate the translation of lab discoveries into life-changing patient care.

"Gretchen’s remarkable achievement of completing two half marathons on two coasts in just two days is a powerful testament to the human spirit's resilience and determination," said Jane Buckner, President of the Benaroya Research Institute. “Like Gretchen, BRI is pushing the boundaries of immunology research. Her support and the awareness she raises are invaluable to our mission, helping us advance closer to our goal of understanding, treating, and ultimately curing autoimmune diseases.

About Gretchen Schoenstein

Gretchen Schoenstein is a half marathon runner, an autoimmune disease warrior and an award-winning speaker and certified coach with over two decades of experience in leadership development and talent management. Her career spans working with a diverse array of organizations, including large and small technology firms, non-profit entities, politics, startups, educational foundations, and companies in the retail, finance, hospitality, environmental and beauty sectors. Her inspirational journey from overcoming adversity to crossing the finish line of over 120 half-marathons informs every aspect of her life. She is the Founder and CEO of Finish Line Moments Coaching and Consulting.


Blog Main Image - BRI Building Rear

About Benaroya Research Institute

Benaroya Research Institute (BRI) is a world leader in human immune system research. BRI works to advance the science that will predict, prevent, reverse and cure immune system diseases like allergies, asthma, cancer, COVID-19 and autoimmune diseases. BRI accelerates discovery through laboratory breakthroughs in immunology that are then translated to clinical therapies. We believe that a breakthrough in one immune system disease can lead to progress against them all, and work tirelessly toward our vision of a healthy immune system for everyone. BRI is a world-renowned independent nonprofit research institute affiliated with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health and based in Seattle.

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