Running has always been a passion of Lawrence O. Gunn (age 74). He is in excellent shape. But Lawrence never expected that he would be "running the race of his life." He had esophageal cancer in 1999. Then, he underwent chemotherapy for several months, while continuing to teach physical education at Edison Gifted School in Chicago. The cancer was in remission after undergoing a life-altering surgery at Lutheran General Hospital in 1999-2000.
Then in 2013, the cancer came back. He went to a doctor and the physician stated "Wow! You're still alive...I didn't expect to see you after that last surgery. No one ever lives long after that." Lawrence went to University of Chicago, where they had 1 or 2 doctors that specialized in a special type of gastric surgery. This surgery had never been done before with patients with esophageal cancer. It would be a medical first. Many patients with this type of cancer don't live very long. This time Lawrence would lose close to 1/3 of his stomach. Eating for rest of his life could be difficult.
Before the surgery, he and his wife Sondra visited the Mayo Clinic a few times for possible solutions and 2nd and 3rd opinions. Sondra states that "I found the right doctors from a woman that gave me recommendations at a Christian Women's Luncheon at StayFit Physical Therapy group." From then on there were several trips to the University of Chicago and preparations for the next complicated surgery. Lawrence found out in January of 2013 and went into surgery in April of 2013. The surgery was a success!
Lawrence has a lot to be grateful for. Recently, during the week of June 6-11, 2017, he competed in track and field events for the Senior US Nationals at Birmingham, Alabama, which earned him respectively 5th in the 50m, 100m, 200m, and in the 4X 100m relay. He is known as "the fastest Gunn".
In high school, he placed and won state wrestling competitions and track competitions. Over the years, he has coached academic clubs, student councils, soccer, track, wrestling, baseball varying with elementary and high school levels of competitions.
Throughout his running journey, Lawrence has traveled to many states to compete and place in track and field events including but not limited to: Maine, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Texas, Oregon, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina. He maintains a healthy diet and practices 4-5 times a week, sprint training with a combination of weight training in the Northwestern suburbs of Chicago, Il. He plans to compete in 2018 in the Penn Relays and the World Masters Senior Competition at the age of 75. He states "I love to run and there aren't many black men out there or any men doing what I'm doing at my age, especially considering the challenges that I have faced. My faith, belief in God, perseverance, my church and family is what got me through."
-The running picture:courtesy of the World Masters Athletics Championship