Marathon Runners Take to the Windy City to Raise Awareness of Liver Disease

October 3, 2023

The American Liver Foundation (ALF) is proud to once again be a member of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Official Charity Program for the 2023 race, which takes place on Sunday, October 8, 2023, in iconic Grant Park.

"We are so grateful for the support of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon," said Lorraine Stiehl, Chief Executive Officer, American Liver Foundation (ALF). "There are nearly 100 million people in the U.S. affected by liver disease, and most aren’t aware they even have it. That’s why we are so honored that these runners have chosen to join us to help raise awareness and funds to combat liver disease."

The American Liver Foundation’s Bank of America Chicago Marathon team has already met their fundraising goal and has since increased it. All funds raised will go towards ALF’s mission to support those affected by liver disease. The American Liver Foundation team is made up of runners with varying levels of experience from novice to advanced, most of whom have a connection to liver disease.

Peggy Clemens, from Chicago, Illinois is the 2023 Chicago Marathon Liver Life Challenge Chair. She shares why she runs, “It is an honor to be able to run for those who are fighting liver disease and for those who have lost their battle to liver disease. My mother lost her life in October 2022 from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (now called metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease or MASLD) and ALF gave me a path to help others affected by this horrible disease. I am running this marathon for all those who can’t, and I am honored to be involved with ALF to help spread awareness about liver disease and fight for a better future.”

For University of Michigan transplant surgeon and avid runner, Dr. Chris Sonnenday, training for a marathon for the first time in 20 years is humbling, but he does it for his patients. “I decided to run because I think a marathon is an appropriate analogy for the long journey many of our patients with liver disease and liver cancer travel to seek a cure in transplant or other therapies. I know that any difficulties I experience pale in comparison to those faced by our patients with liver disease, and I run to honor their bravery and inspiration,” he said. Chris Sonnenday, MD, MHS, is the Transplant Center Director at University of Michigan Health and a member of ALF’s transplant workgroup.

“For me, the most exciting thing about being a part of Team ALF for this year’s Chicago Marathon has been the ability to meet so many people touched by liver disease and relate our experiences together,” said Scott Nelson from Carmel, Illinois a repeat marathoner now running with Team ALF after he was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis. “As someone with an incurable and degenerative liver disease, I’ve resolved to use the time left as a healthy person to run as much as possible and work with ALF to increase awareness and research for rare liver disease patients like me. Hopefully through both my running and advocacy, I can maximize how long I can keep doing what I love,” he added.

Read more about our inspiring runners participating in the American Liver Foundation Bank of America Chicago Marathon team.

The American Liver Foundation hosts a wide range of fundraising events that bring local communities together in support of our mission. Learn more about our national signature campaigns Liver Life Walk and Liver Life Challenge or find an event near you at

About Liver Disease:

Your liver is essential to your life. It is the largest solid internal organ in the body. It is about the size of a football and weighs about 3 to 3.5 pounds (1.36–1.59kg). It is located on your right side, just under your rib cage. The liver performs many vital functions, including filtering toxins from your blood, managing blood clotting, making bile to digest fat, storing sugar for energy, turning extra glucose into glycogen, making protein for blood plasma, and helping with digestion.

There are many kinds of liver diseases and conditions, the most common are hepatitis viruses, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)*, autoimmune diseases, genetic conditions, cancer, and others. More than 100 million people in the U.S. have some form of liver disease. Approximately 4.5 million U.S. adults (1.8%) have been diagnosed with liver disease. But it is estimated that 80-100 million adults in the U.S. have fatty liver disease (newly renamed to steatotic liver disease), and many do not know they have it. Research estimates that fatty liver disease is present in up to 75% of overweight people and in more than 90% with severe obesity. Globally, it affects one billion people. In 2020, 51,642 adults in the U.S. died from liver disease (15.7 per 100,000 population). Find more information about Liver Disease.

About the American Liver Foundation

The American Liver Foundation is the nation’s largest non-profit organization focused solely on promoting liver health and disease prevention. The American Liver Foundation achieves its mission in the fight against liver disease by funding scientific research, education for medical professionals, advocacy, information and support programs for patients and their families as well as public awareness campaigns about liver wellness and disease prevention. The mission of the American Liver Foundation is to promote education, advocacy, support services and research for the prevention, treatment and cure of liver disease. For more information visit or call:1 800 GO LIVER (800-465-4837).

*Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has been newly renamed metabolic dysfunction associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD).

Last updated on January 18th, 2024 at 08:53 am

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