Nicole Kaes, member of the National Hemophilia Foundation’s Red Tie Runners, with her husband, Steve.

Running for a Cause: Why One Woman Joined NHF’s Red Tie Runners

Brooklyn resident Nicole Kaes combined her love of running with fundraising for NHF during the 2019 New York City marathon
Author: Lisa Fields

In the summer of 2019, while training for the New York City marathon, Nicole Kaes of Brooklyn, New York, woke up every Saturday at 5:30 AM so she could squeeze in a long run before it got too hot outside. To show his support, her husband, Steve, got up early as well every single time.

“He ate breakfast with me, even though he had no reason to be up at that hour,” Kaes says. “He was always there to send me off, and he was always there when I got back, to welcome me home and spend the rest of the day being lazy with me and recovering.”

Kaes, a lifelong runner, decided to run her first marathon this past November as a member of the National Hemophilia Foundation’s Red Tie Runners. She ran to honor Steve, who has mild hemophilia A, and partnered with her sister-in-law, Michelle Fleming of Columbus, Ohio—Steve’s sister—for the race. They’d run half-marathons together, so tackling 26.2 miles seemed like a natural progression.

“Michelle and I had trained together, and she was really instrumental in getting me to the finish line of my first half,” Kaes says. “I had always assumed that I would do a full, just by nature of being a runner my whole life. I kept saying, ‘Oh, maybe next year.’ So Michelle was finally like, ‘OK, this is our year.’”

Committing to run for the NHF team meant that Kaes and Fleming each had to raise $3,500. Aside from raising $500 for NHF earlier in 2019, when she ran the New York City half-marathon, Kaes was a novice at fundraising. Kaes and Fleming linked their fundraising efforts so that relatives didn’t have to choose one woman over the other, setting a $7,000 fundraising goal for themselves. They exceeded their goal by a few hundred dollars.

“Whenever you’re fundraising, there’s just a little bit of anxiety around if you’re going to hit your goals,” Kaes says. “But our friends and family were so generous and encouraging.”

Kaes was pleased to combine her love of running with raising awareness and funds for bleeding disorders. “Turning something you’re passionate about into an opportunity for fundraising and lifting up others who might not have the same opportunities is always a great call,” Kaes says. “NHF is a great partner, in terms of supporting us in our fundraising goals and bringing the team together, continuing the dialogue around bleeding disorders and the community.”

Since the New York City marathon, Kaes has been telling fellow runners about NHF’s Red Tie Runners team, with hopes of recruiting new members for future races. Many people who enter race lotteries to earn a spot don’t get in. Running for a charity partner is another option to guarantee a spot on the starting line.

“If people don’t get in through the lottery, and they would like to run for a cause,” Kaes says, “it’s a great option to raise awareness and funds for NHF.”