By Charlene Giannetti
This past March, Tina Lundgren was attending a board meeting at Ronald McDonald House New York, listening to other members make dire predictions about the economic climate for fundraising. “Someone remarked that everyone can make a difference,” she says. “I thought, what can I do besides participating in the gala and soliciting corporate sponsors?”
Lundgren came up with the idea of raising money by running. “I thought if I ran 100 miles and got 100 friends to donate $100 each, that would bring in $10,000.” Her friends offered to double their donations if Lundgren ran the ING New York City Marathon on November 1. She agreed, the sponsors poured in, and her efforts have already raised more than $100,000 for her favorite charity. Her high profile sponsors include Tommy Hilfiger, Vera Wang, Barbara Walters, Kenneth Cole, Francisco Costa, Frederick Fekkai, Norman and Lynn Lear, Jose Natori, Melania and Donald Trump, Stacey Bendet of Alice + Olivia, Maurice Marciano of Guess, and many others.
The New York Road Runners recommended Jimmy Lynch, a former Olympian, as a trainer. During their sessions, Lundgren says Lynch puts her through a variety of drills. “I never know what’s waiting for me,” she says with a laugh. “There’s warp speed and Jimmy speed, one notch above warp speed.” Her efforts so far have paid off. On Sunday, August 16, in 90-degree weather, Lundgren ran the Manhattan Half-Marathon, finishing with an impressive time of two hours, one minute. On September 1, she ran another half marathon, breaking the two hour barrier with a time of 1:56:01. “I took one second too long at a water station!” she says by e-mail. “Terry (her husband) was at mile nine and he ran me in…the perfect way to keep a good pace. :)”
She will have two more chances to better even that time, in the Queens Half-Marathon on September 20 and the Staten Island Half-Marathon on October 11.
Lundgren completed one other marathon, seven years ago in her hometown, Columbus, Ohio, “the flattest marathon,” she says, adding that because of a nagging knee injury, she never thought she would run another. “I’m surprised to find myself here,” she admits.
Believing in a cause, however, takes one to surprising places. And Lundgren’s commitment to Ronald McDonald House New York runs deep. Two years ago, she agreed to serve on its board and took a tour. “Once you are here and you see the kids, you can’t help but say yes,” she says.
Although Lundgren is a novice where marathons are concerned, her athletic accomplishments as a figure skater are impressive. Growing up in Columbus (“There’s a lot of skating there”) she began the sport as a child. “I had to be on the ice by 6 a.m. and I loved it,” she says. “The only rule we had in my house was that my grades stayed up.” She passed her Gold Test at age twelve. “Anytime you become intimately involved in an activity or sport at a young age and really work at it, you develop a work ethic and degree of discipline that you carry into different facets of your life.”
Lundgren began teaching skating while still in high school and continued to teach throughout her years at Ohio State University. In 1992, she started to judge competitions, something she still does. In 2008, she participated in “Skating with the Stars Under the Stars” to honor Dorothy Hamill, at Wollman Rink, an event that raised money for skating in Harlem.
Tina and her husband, Terry Lundgren, the CEO and President of Macy’s, generously lend their time and energy to many charitable causes. Ronald McDonald House New York, however, remains near and dear to their hearts. A room in the facility, Macy’s Living Room, serves as a place for families to relax and be with other families. And store employees visit around the time of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to read to the children. “It’s a great place for people to get involved personally,” says Tina.
Ronald McDonald House New York has its own team running in the marathon and several of the fathers whose children are staying at the house will participate. Because the marathon’s route goes up First Avenue, past 73rd Street where Ronald McDonald House New York is located, the non-profit will have a water station at the end of its block.
If Tina stops for water, that will be one of the few detours she makes. “I don’t want to stop,” she says. “I just want to finish.” In the meantime, her goal is to train without getting injured. “I do something five days a week, but I’m not running as many miles as I did the first time I prepared to run a marathon,” she says. “It’s too much wear and tear on the knees.”
While it’s important to push yourself, she notes, in the end it’s mind over body. “There are times you want to stop,” she says, “but you just have to think that you will get there.”
Although she hasn’t thought too far beyond the marathon, Tina knows what she will be doing the following day. “I’m going to have a massage and dial for my favorite meal,” she says with a laugh. “It will definitely contain some sort of chocolate and a great bottle of wine.”
To sponsor Tina’s run with the money going to Ronald McDonald House New York, go to: www.rmdh.org/tina100
Woman Around Town’s Six Questions
Favorite Place to Eat: La Esquina,106 Kenmare Street, Daniel’s, or our terrace on a warm summer night (you can’t just choose one favorite place to dine in NYC)
Favorite Place to Shop: Of course Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s.
Favorite New York Sight: The city skyline at night on approach into LaGuardia.
Favorite New York Moment: When the priest said, “I now pronounce you husband and wife…” on my wedding day.
What You Love About New York: The city never sleeps.
What You Hate About New York: The city never sleeps.