by Michaeline Nelson

Jan Parillo and Preston Hare are regulars at the track on Monday and Thursday morning practices before going to work. Together they own a company, Parillo/Hare Realtors, working across the state of Rhode Island. Jan says she is a people person and enjoys helping customers. It can be a stressful time for people when they are buying or selling a house, so she tries to make the process easier and keep everyone calm and collected. The customers are the best part, while the hardest part is dealing with getting through all the regulations and financial systems. Running in the morning is how they both like to start off their day.

Jan started running about two years ago when Preston introduced her to the club. Her first race was the Gaspee 5K. The race is part of a series of events in honor of Rhode Island colonists burning the British revenue schooner, HMS Gaspee in 1772, shedding the first blood of the American Revolution. Jan had never run in her life and wanted to be able to breathe while she ran. She didn’t know anything about running, but started on a walk-run program. Jan says that finishing a run, workout, or race is her natural high. Running feels good and clears her mind. She recently set a new PR in the 5K in just over 30 minutes at the Wild Bill’s Run for ALS in Warwick, winning her age-group division. Along the way she has learned that not being able to breathe at the end of a race is normal; with training you just finish faster and keep learning to push yourself a little bit harder.

Preston has run his whole life. In high school he ran track and field, the low hurdles and half mile, and threw the shot put. He also ran cross-country, but only to pass Latin class, since his teacher was also the coach. Preston has used running as a way to explore during his travels, whether to the city of Washington, D.C. or to Algeria. But his favorite place to run is in Newport, Rhode Island by the ocean. When commenting on his home state of Rhode Island, he says, “I enjoy this part of the world more than anywhere else”.

Preston and Jan both volunteer on a regular basis at the Ronald McDonald House of Providence. In fact one of the reasons that Preston was first attracted to the running club was that it was part of a broader goal, not just a running club. They volunteer at the House twice a month doing whatever needs to be done to keep the House running efficiently, cooking, cleaning, mailing; there is always something to do. Preston also volunteers at special events, from running a tent at the Rock & Roll Half Marathon to cooking Easter dinner at the House. In addition, Preston has helped to get many other people involved in the Ronald McDonald House. He is part of the Haven and United Methodist Church, singing gospel music in a three-person choir and helping out with Sunday school classes and the youth group, which has begun to volunteer at the House. Preston enjoys having the Ronald McDonald House and the Haven Church as places to channel his energy. He can do whatever needs to be done, from preaching a whole service, to baking delicious cookies.

Preston and Jan are also both cancer survivors; Preston survived melanoma as a teenager and Jan underwent surgery for breast cancer last June. They both say it has given them a different outlook on life. Walking and running has helped them to overcome injuries and surgeries. You just have to keep moving. Whatever illness you might have you can’t dwell on it. Their advice is: never give up, always go forward