Wearing a red trucker hat that reads "who's bad," Aurora De Lucia is in no hurry to hit the half marathon finish line. In fact, she sometimes backtracks if a group behind her sounds fun.
Time is irrelevant. She just needs to finish.
De Lucia is running 52 half marathons in 52 weeks for marriage equality and the Lake Tahoe Marathon weekend will fulfill numbers 31, 32 and 33 on the list. Starting Friday, De Lucia is running one half marathon per day.
DeLuca won't break any records. She likely won't finish in the top half, but one mile at a time she is winning back a sense of control that she lost three years ago when she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect that led to open heart surgery. -
The recovery process was frustrating; frustrating to go from being able to run 13 miles to getting winded while walking. Frustrating to go from healthy one minute to a being hospital regular the next.
The life De Lucia knew had vanished so she set out to get it back.
"Running is one of those things in life that you pretty much can have full control over," De Lucia said.
As De Lucia ran to regain her former life she started blogging about it. "My heart was stopped; I cannot be," it reads at the top of auroraisblogging.com. When people started reading she decided to try and do some good for a cause she cared about.
"Hopefully, I raise a kadrillion dollars, that's not a real word," De Lucia joked. "But no matter what I raise, at least I'll know at the end that I did some good, and some is better than none."
Right now her funds are hovering closer to $750, but that could be because she didn't exactly choose a universally accepted charity. Marriage equality is a surprising choice considering De Lucia could have gone with a more accepted cause like congenital heart defects, but when it comes to good causes De Lucia doesn't care about popular.
"It's hard because I have sort of a hot-button issue that I'm raising money for," De Lucia said. "But I could not think of anything that meant more to me than equality for other human beings in our world. I feel like marriage equality is the beginning of that equality."
De Lucia is running this weekend, and most every weekend, to regain her own independence and take a stand for what she said should be a basic civil right. It's not an easy road. She's taken a beating, and not just physically, like the time she had to use crutches for 13 miles because she sprained her ankle. Her cause tends to be fighting words.
"There definitely are some people who just get so angry. They are so fervent in their belief that the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community is not equal and they do not deserve things and it's really hard when you talk to those people," Del Lucia said. "But if I'm going to ask people to be tolerant than I have to try to be as tolerant of other people as much as possible."
De Lucia understands what comes with the territory and she runs, or crutches, on. Equality is the priority and marriage equality is the starting battleground.
"I just didn't think it was fair that I have the ability to have 1,400 rights from the government if I just decide," De Lucia said. "I could just find a guy today and say 'hey, lets go get a marriage license,' and then I have friends in these unbelievably loving relationships who have been together for so long. To think that they can't get the same rights as me just because they're a same-sex couple, it makes no sense to me."