COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Whether chasing a record or just hoping to cross the finish line, everyone at the Freihofer’s Run for Women has a story. For 14 ladies planning to participate this year, their story centers around a special soul.
“Alicia was the kind of person that would light up a room,” said Edie Crist, Alicia Alesandrini’s best friend.
“Everybody loved her. There’s not one person you can find on this earth that had a bad thing to say,” added Alesandrini’s neice Kayla Walsh.
A small group of women gathered at the Crossings in Colonie, with pictures of their daughter, aunt, friend, and coworker Alicia laid out on the picnic table. As they recounted memories, it became clear that Alesandrini was selfless to a fault.
“Even on her worst day, you would have never known,” said Margaret Shellenberger. “She didn’t complain.
Alicia, a wife and mother of two, had an unfair share of things to complain about. For starters, a battle with breast cancer.
“She made it look easy,” said Walsh. “She flew through those treatments, she was so strong.”
Alesandrini beat breast cancer in 2020, but last year after multiple bouts of what the doctors treated as pneumonia, she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. It was also in her spine and bones.
Shellenberger held up a picture of Alicia in a hospital gown and said, “this picture’s when she was first diagnosed, and as you can see, she’s still smiling.”
Alicia would keep smiling, even though three weeks after her diagnosis, her husband who suffered from mental illness would take his own life “because he just couldn’t handle the fact that his wife was that sick,” according to Crist.
Three weeks after that, Alesandrini’s nephew would die of a heart attack. But despite the onslaught of tragedy, Alicia never wallowed or asked why because her focus was never on herself.
“Always, always caring about somebody else,” Walsh described.
Alicia’s friends and family – Left now only with the memory of her – wish she would have been just a little selfish.
“I wish that she had gone sooner. I wish that she had put everything else on hold,” said Walsh. “I wish that she had taken that day from work. I wish she had told the girls no she couldn’t drive them somewhere, and really focused on drilling down on why she wasn’t feeling good. I think that earlier diagnosis would have definitely helped her.”
A few months before Alicia’s 50th birthday this year, she lost her cancer fight on Crist’s birthday.
“It was awful, yeah,” said Crist, who wanted to find a way to honor her late friend. She put together a team of women – Alicia’s Angels – who will walk in Alicia’s honor at this year’s Freihofer’s Run for Women.
“One of our focuses of the race is empowerment, and how the event empowers women,” said event director Kristen Hislap. She said everybody comes to the starting line for a different reason but all with the same goal: to finish. For Alicia’s Angels, their intention is even greater.
“I’m really trying to keep her legacy alive,” said Walsh.
It’s a legacy of kindness and selflessness, each step a reminder that it’s not only okay, it’s necessary to sometimes put yourself first.
“You have to be an advocate for yourself,” said Crist. “You don’t want to leave your loved ones behind like she did.”