Maggie's Mission founders to race in 2024 NYC Half Marathon in memory of daughter

Sam Ryan Image
Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Founders of Maggie's Mission to race in 2024 NYC Half Marathon
Sam Ryan has more on the inspiring story of Maggie's Mission.

GREENLAWN, New York (WABC) -- For the third consecutive year, Maggie's Mission is an official charity partner of the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon.

The team of close to 12 runners has raised more than $21,000 this year, and counting, all to help children fighting pediatric cancer, and for the team's founder... the fight is personal.

Donna and Steve Schmidt are usually at the finish line in Central Park, cheering on those running for Maggie's Mission. They created the foundation after losing their daughter to a rare and aggressive form of cancer seven years ago.

Maggie was only 17 when she passed. Shortly after, her family found a bucket list she left behind.

"We found Maggie's bucket list in a notebook after she passed away. It was pretty difficult to read because some of them were really sweet things," Donna Desousa-Schmidt said. "One of the last things she wrote was 'to make it to be an adult,' and that one was really hard."

She says that the aim behind Maggie's Mission, for the past seven years, has been to work toward fulfilling Maggie's wish of helping children make it to be an adult.

Maggie's Mission raises money to support research and provide financial assistance to families in need.

"We fund pediatric cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Cold Spring Harbor Labs, we hope to branch out from that and fund other promising research because pediatric cancers don't receive as much as they should in terms of federal funding for cures," Donna Desousa-Schmidt said.

This Sunday, Donna and her husband will join the runners on the course as part of the Maggie's Mission team.

"Running saved my life in terms of dealing with the intense emotions and grief that I felt after losing her," Desousa-Schmidt said. "Sitting on the sidelines and watching is a little difficult so I felt like this year, why not join our team and fundraise as Maggie's parents. Thinking about what these children go through and what Maggie went through in her cancer journey, that's going to keep me going to cross the line."

To learn more about the race, visit

Eyewitness News will provide live updates between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Sunday while the four professional fields will be streamed on NYRR's digital channels,, and the ESPN App, beginning at 7:00 a.m. ET.


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