Woman to run in NYC Marathon to honor loved one

A Johnstown native will run in the New York City Marathon on Sunday for a special reason.

Sarah Jurica, a former Johnstown resident who now lives in Saratoga Springs, will run in honor of Cliff Klein, her boyfriend who died last year, and to raise money for the John Ritter Foundation.

Jurica said Klein died in October 2012 of a thoracic aortic dissection, a tear in the inner walls of the aorta in the heart. Klein was 42 and a Gloversville native.

Jurica found out about the John Ritter Foundation and started participating in events with other members.

The foundation is named after actor John Ritter, who died from an acute aortic dissection in 2003.

Jurica said the disease has symptoms similar to a heart attack.

“It is very serious because it is often mistreated,” Jurica said.

Jurica said she heard about a signup for the marathon and decided to join it.

So far, Jurica said she has raised more than $6,300 for the foundation.

“We are so proud and grateful to again be one of the official charities of this year’s New York City Marathon and have the opportunity to raise much-needed funds for life-saving research and education,” Amy Yasbeck, the widow of Ritter, said in a news release. “Team Ritter runners are passionate about increasing awareness of aortic dissection and its risk factors and are committed to raising funds to support the JRF.”

Money raised by the foundation go to the John Ritter Research Program in Aortic and Vascular Diseases at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston to support research to identify genetic risks for aortic dissections.

“The funds raised by Team Ritter will allow us to continue our genetic research to identify genes or altered DNA that increases someone’s risk for an acute aortic dissection. By identifying who is at risk, we can prevent premature deaths due to aortic dissections,” Dr. Dianna Milewicz, director of UTHealth’s John Ritter Research Program, said in the news release. “It will also help us spread information to both physicians and the public about symptoms and genetic risk factors for aortic dissections, including the fact that this condition can run in families.”

Milewicz is professor and George H. W. Bush chair in cardiovascular research in the Division of Medical Genetics at the UTHealth Medical School.

Jurica said she is excited about the marathon, which will include about 50,000 runners.

“It is amazing, overwhelming,” Jurica said.