"Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional." Those were just a few of the inspirational words spoken by 22-year-old Sara Khatib during a presentation at TEDxLAU in August. Just a few weeks later, on September 5, the fourth-year pharmacy student passed away after a battle with cancer.

"Her sickness spread to every part of her body but failed to reach her spirit," Karl Awaida, a longtime friend of Sara, told Beirut.com. What she wanted most in her last days, he says, was to graduate with her classmates and stop the pain. "Elle etait belle comme la lune, douce comme un reve, et forte comme un cedre" Karl continued in French, describing Sara as a woman as beautiful and strong as the Cedars of Lebanon.

Family members, friends and supporters who were touched by Sara's story will participate in the Beirut Marathon this Sunday as a tribute to her determination and perseverance in the face of great struggle. "She was brave, courageous, positive and caring. She was dedicated to helping weak people," Adib Khatib, Sara’s father, told Beirut.com when asked to describe her.

Before her death, she started an initiative to support amputees in Lebanon, a project her friends and family say they will continue in her name.

"Sara was a bubble of positive energy even before she got sick," said Karl. Indeed, her four major lessons during that TEDxLAU talk were about facing hardship head on. She told the crowd: sometimes giving up is the only way to survive; don’t let your obstacles define you; pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional; and do not postpone your dreams. Anyone who signed up to run for Sara Khatib on November 9 will wear a sticker with the slogan, “pain is Inevitable, suffering is optional," in honor of her memory at the Beirut Marathon. Other groups and organizations will also be taking part in the 10 Km Fun Run, which was specifically set up for NGOs, corporate teams and charities to spread their message with the world.

Meanwhile, Architect Ghassan Hajjar is running the entire 42 km marathon with one goal in mind: to collect enough donations to secure two full scholarships for needy children to attend school next year in Lebanon. The effort has been dubbed Ready, Set, Donate. Hajjar works with the NGO, AFEL, a group dedicated to helping children recover from abusive situations.

A seasoned athlete, Hajjar ran the Beirut Marathon last year, along with races in Parlis and Berlin. He's reaching out to locals and asking anyone who can afford to do so to pitch in and donate for this important cause.

If you'd like to donate money to support Hajjar's effort, bank details have been set up on this Facebook page.

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