Updated November 2019
On November 4, 2018, Christina Martin ran in Chicago’s Hot Chocolate Run, a 15K race. Unlike others, she didn’t run for the love of hot chocolate. Christina ran for blood clot awareness and raised money for the North American Thrombosis Forum in memory of her high school sweetheart, Manu Ajamu Williams, who she describes as “the love of my life.”
In Memory of Manu “Shaq” Williams
Manu Williams, who friends called “Shaq,” passed away from a blood clot on September 28, 2014 at the young age of 36. Remembered as a man who everyone loved, Christina describes him as a hard-working, fun-loving man that embraced everyone around him.
“I met him in high school. He was Mr. Cool and I was the nerd with glasses and braces,” Christina said. “When we were together, it was the best time of my life.”
“After high school and college, I was very much the white-collar marketer and he was a nurse. He drove trucks. He worked for UPS. He was very blue collar. It was very funny because it was kind of a yin and yang type of thing,” said Christina, describing their relationship. “When I do things, it’s very black and white, and I like things to be done a certain way. He was very whimsical and fun. So, we were very much opposites.”
Manu’s personable energy drew people to him.
“People would walk up to him and know who he was,” Christina said. “He was friends with everybody.”
“He loved everybody and people knew that. They felt that,” she continued, explaining the way that people seemed to gravitate towards Manu.
“I honestly just think he was sent from God and everybody loved him.”
Since Manu’s passing, Christina has dedicated herself to raising awareness around blood clots.
Making a Change
“In 2014, when he passed, I decided that I was going to educate people about blood clots, because people don’t get it or understand it,” explained Christina. Christina founded M.A.W (Manu’s initials) Charity Events in 2015, an organization that hosts events to raise money for blood clot awareness. She organized her first charity race in 2015, the “Stop the Clot Chicago 5K” in support of the National Blood Clot Alliance.
“At the end of the day, I had 300 runners. As I was looking at all of the people running, I realized that those people were running because they either suffered from a blood clot or they had lost somebody. I realized that anyone can make a difference and anyone can make a change,” she continued.
Since then, Christina has organized a “Fighting Blood Clots with Street Fighter V” video game tournament for blood clot awareness. She also ran in the 2017 Chicago Marathon, sponsored by the National Stroke Foundation.
“I’m doing everything I can to educate people so that they know the symptoms and don’t become a victim of it,” Christina explained. “Having that conversation can be the difference between someone living and dying. I just want to tell people that if they’ve had a blood clot, just bring it up in normal conversation because you don’t know where that information is going to go,” Christina stressed. “I believe that if you just plant that seed, you don’t know what it’s going to do. You could save a life.”