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Meet #TeamNarcolepsy

October 15th, 2019

Narcolepsy Network has been selected as an Official Charity Partner for the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon. We will join more than 350 official charity partners in the biggest marathon in the world. Over a million spectators will cheer on #TeamNarcolepsy on November 3, 2019, through all five boroughs of New York City.

We’re excited to introduce our marathon team! Go here to read more about our runners or click on a runner’s name to support their fundraising campaign.

Emily Jillette

Emily is a second time member of #TeamNarcolepsy.
Mariana Figuera

Mariana is a clinical research scientist working at the Montefiore Sleep-Wake Disorders Center in Bronx, NY. She does what she can to advocate for people with narcolepsy and other sleep disorders and to find new treatments for them. She is also an avid runner and a “rusty” triathlete who is delighted to support #TeamNarcolepsy.
Piper Paul

Piper is a practicing attorney who represents students and adults with disabilities. Originally from the Midwest, she has lived on the East Coast since attending NYU as an undergraduate student. After NYU, she attended Brooklyn Law School and is licensed to practice law in Connecticut and New York. Piper has two close family members with narcolepsy and understands the many obstacles which may arise when navigating school, work, and life all while having a sleep disorder. She has spent the majority of her legal career advocating for persons with disabilities, including sleep disorders.
Jason Ruff

Jason is a runner from Chandler, AZ and is a returning member of #TeamNarcolepsy.

Both Jason’s family and his girlfriend’s family have been affected by narcolepsy and sleep deprivation issues. He is inspired to run the NYC marathon with #TeamNarcolepsy to raise awareness for them and everyone else with narcolepsy.
Nicole Sondermann

Nicole has raised over $3,000 to support narcolepsy awareness and #TeamNarcolepsy as they prepare to run the NYC marathon.
Peter Sexton

Peter is a friend of our Board of Director's President and fellow member of #Team-Narcolepsy, Keith Harper. It is through him that he became aware of the challenges of attaining funding for rare diseases and the huge amount of work it takes to support advocacy on behalf of people with rare diseases like narcolepsy. He adds, "These are the types of organizations that need our financial support so that they can continue the great work that they do."
David Younts

David is a dad to Sam, 8 years old (pictured here with David) and a husband to Kim. He is an elementary school PE teacher in Las Vegas, NV. He has been a runner since he was the fastest miler in the 6th grade, albeit with long stretches of inactivity. He started his adult running “career” in 2010 while he was a high school track and cross-country coach in North Carolina. He ran primarily 10ks and half marathons. David has a half marathon PR of 1:50:55. Hearing the personal stories of teammates that are affected by narcolepsy has inspired him. He adds, “Running this marathon and raising money for Narcolepsy Network is an honor.”
Keith Harper

Keith is a runner who has completed the NYC marathon six times! He represented Narcolepsy Network as a solo runner previously and was a member of #TeamNarcolepsy last year. In addition to being a highly motivated runner, Keith is a strategic, highly motivated design director.

He also serves as the President of Narcolepsy Network’s Board of Directors and runs a meetup called New York Narcolepsy Support Group, a support group for people in the New York area.
Kitty Balerna

[My son] Daniel was about nine years old when he went from being a very active child to taking three-hour naps after school. He struggled to stay awake in school and he was no longer playing with his friends after school as he was sleeping more and more. We thought it was just a stage that would pass, except it didn’t. Danny eventually got a sleep and went right into REM, skipping the light sleep and deep sleep patterns that most people cycle through. He showed all the signs of having narcolepsy. We were at a loss on what to do. His wonderful doctors pointed us to Narcolepsy Network, and with their help, we started our journey on educating ourselves and advocating for him at school. With medication, Dan is able to get through most days. Today, Dan is a 19-year-old sophomore at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. I am so proud of him and his determination to be the best he can, every day.

Tatijana Conley

If I was asked back in the winter of 2019 if I would be running a marathon this year, my response would have been heck no! However, during the spring, a dear friend of mine, Kitty Balerna, expressed her desire to run the 2019 NY Marathon for the Narcolepsy Network. Unbeknownst to me, Kitty disclosed that her youngest son, Danny, was diagnosed with narcolepsy when he was only nine years old. Kitty went on to explain everything her family went through when Danny was first diagnosed with narcolepsy and added that even today, at the age of 19, his diagnosis is still an adventure. Upon hearing this, I told Kitty that if she wanted to run the NYC marathon, that I would put my name in the Narcolepsy Network NYC raffle to run with her. Surprisingly, less than 48 hours later, we were both selected to run!

If you will be in New York City on November 3, make sure to join us as we cheer on the runners, then join us for some drinks after the marathon.

If you can’t be in New York, you can still watch the live coverage of the race from 9:00 AM-12:30 PM ET on ESPN2 and via the ESPN app. International viewers can watch the broadcast from 7:00 AM-2:00 PM ET via a variety of global broadcast partners (check your local listings).

Be sure to download the official TCS New York City Marathon app (Apple/Google Play) or visit for more information.

You can also follow the runners on the app by using their bib numbers:

Jason Ruff – 69817
Emily Jillette – 70184
David Younts – 62802
Angelo Rega – 50685
Piper Paul – 18922
Tatijana Conley – 51122
Kitty Balerna – 51100
Mariana Figuera – 30141
James Messina – 61699
Keith Harper – 32197
Michelle Georgevich – 18932

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Date Created: October 15th, 2019
Last Updated: December 21st, 2023