LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB)- Joe Cena remembers running the relay at the Buffalo Marathon in 2015. He saw those blue bibs for the full marathoners, and decided he needed a new challenge.
“I got home, and I had made that decision that day that next year I would do the full. And I started training in January, and here we are,” Cena told News 4.
But he isn’t your average runner; the Lockport father of three was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
“Everything got really bright. Things almost started to get light, like when you walk inside after being outside for a couple hours and it takes you a minutes to adjust. That’s what I noticed at first, and I went to every eye doctor in Western New York trying to figure it out,” he said.
At least 3,500 Western New Yorkers report living with MS.
There’s no known cause, and it’s hard to diagnose.
The disease affects everyone differently, but women are generally affected more often.
Cena’s wife Jessica said this diagnosis has opened her eyes to what MS really means.
“It was an automatic you know, wheelchair and crutches, but it’s not that,” she said.
Cena hasn’t had symptoms in almost 10 months, but changes in body temperature could affect him while he’s running.
To keep him motivated and hydrated, he’s got a top notch training team: his sons, Cameron, Jordan, and Devin.
“If he sees daddy finishing, coming down the street, he wants to out there and run with him to finish,” said Jessica of their oldest son, Cameron.
Cena, who’s a middle school teacher in Depew, is running with some co-workers for “Finish MS.” They’ve raised $1,200 for the National MS Society in Upstate New York.
“Him finishing, crossing that finish line is just us saying….we made it through that first year, and the toughest year of our life,” Jessica said.
Cena is hoping to finish the marathon in four hours and 15 minutes.