Business, Central New York, Community, Health

Chocolate Race Raises Awareness for AMV Disorder

Audio Transcript: Chocolate Challenge Script

By Kayla Burton SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS)-  On Saturday, July 29, 2018, the first ever Chocolate Challenge 5K and 10K race will take place at 8:00 a.m. at Le Moyne College. This race consists of various kinds of chocolate including chocolate bars, chocolate ice cream, chocolate fountains, chocolate chips, chocolate kisses, and even a chocolate pizza for the winner. Founder of this race, Kelleigh Gustafson, 22, may not be able to run the race herself, but she’ll be sure to be eating chocolate with the winner at the finish line.

Gustafson was diagnosed with Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) when she was four-years-old.  She was not able to play contact sports and she had frequent doctor visits that lasted up to 12 hours.

Typically, arteries carry blood with oxygen to the heart, brain and body under high pressure.  AVM occurs when the arteries and veins connect directly, causing the blood to flow at an abnormally fast rate. When this happens, serious results in headaches, pain, strokes, excessive bleeding and heart failure may take place.

With AVM, Gustafson’s childhood didn’t always consist of playing at the playground or soccer at recess with her friends. Instead, she was battling. Fighting a war that no four-year old should have to suffer.

“Because I was diagnosed at four, I’ve always known about it. It’s the only thing I’ve known. I can’t remember a time before it,” Gustafson said. “I’ve had treatments twice a year for every year of my life, and treatment involves a certain procedure that can last four hours, can go 12 hours. And I’ve been doing that since I was four.”

Some kids have to leave school because they have a fever or a doctor’s appointment. For Gustafson, missing school was the norm, and completely out of her control.

When junior year of high school came around, Gustafson realized there was no cure for AVM, so she decided to take action and raise awareness to help find a cure. Gustafson and her family created the, Kelleigh’s Cause organization. This organization continues to raise awareness, donations and host different events to support the search for a cure for AVM.

“Even if we don’t find a cure or aren’t able to fund research, we’ve at least started a community for other people with AVM to turn to if they need help,” Gustafson said.

With already more than 500 people registered for the Chocolate Challenge race, Gustafson can enjoy her chocolate knowing her mission is on its way.

To find out more information on the Chocolate Challenge, visit