'll be teary-eyed when she crosses the starting and finish lines for The Banco Popular Chicago Half Marathon Sept. 14.
She'll be thinking about her
mom and brother, both of whom died of AIDS
just wants to run 13.1 miles for her
mom, Suzanne Carlson, who died in 1990; and for her
younger brother, Clifford ( known as Gipper ) , who died in 1991, two days after his
'I've wanted to do this for a few years now, but I never really had the courage to run that many miles,' said Belcher, 27, a Chicago native who graduated from Taft High School in 1998 and attended Wright College.
She now works as an optician at Lakeview Eye Care.
'I know that there were a lot of people out there suffering from HIV and AIDS
, and they don't have the funds for the medication [ needed ] , so I wanted to do what I could to help them.
Yeah, this [ run ] is very personal.'
is one of about 800 runners training for four races supported by the NAMTP
( the National AIDS Marathon Training Program ) . Last year, NAMTP runners raised $1.1 million for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago
NAMTP organizers hope to raise $1.5 million this season.
Read more story below....
'When I was putting some information into our database, I noticed that [ Belcher
] had changed some text on her
[ fundraising ] Web page.
'We have participants who are touched personally by family or friends who are HIV-positive or have AIDS, such as Rachel.
We also have participants who are HIV-positive or have AIDS.'
'When I'm running now, when I'm training now, I'm just thinking about them,' Belcher
said of her
mother and brother. 'When I get tired, I just tell them that they better get me through it because it's going to be a tough obstacle for me.
And I know for sure they will be with me on race day because I've never done anything this challenging.'
In 1984, when her
brother was born, he
had an immunity problem and was having trouble holding food down.
had surgery and, during tests, it was determined that he
mom then was tested, and it was determined that she
' [ Gipper ] was always smiling, always happy.
always wanted to make sure that everyone else was always taken care of.
never let anyone know the pain that he
was feeling; he
always wanted to make sure that you were OK,' said Belcher
, who is HIV-negative.