One of the most rewarding activities in which I have ever participated involves a group called I Run 4. Here’s the website if you want to check us out. Basically, we match runners with those who cannot run, and we run in their honor.
Founder Tim Boyle began the program by running in honor of Michael Wasserman, who is confined to a wheelchair. That was in January – and now at the end of September, we have over 6500 members in the closed Facebook group and nearly 1850 matches.
My responsibility with this group is to facilitate the matches. I have spreadsheets and pair up the people requesting a runner and the runners requesting a buddy. We say that I match, but basically God makes the matches and I just facilitate the spreadsheets.
You cannot imagine the excitement that a match post will generate – the runners have been waiting 6-8 weeks to be paired with a buddy, and the buddies and their parents are so excited to have someone who is willing to dedicate their runs to them, pray for them, and support them so they don’t feel so alone.
I see comments about people bursting into tears when they get matched – and there are lots of exclamation points in the comment feed. One runner noted that she had not understood that people cried when they got their match – until she got her match!
I know from my own personal experience, running for Bennett has been truly inspiring. He turned 2 last summer, and faces the challenges of having Down syndrome. His family calls me his “running mom” and I dedicate every run to him –pray for him, worry about him when he’s not feeling well, and rejoice when he reaches some new milestone. His picture is on my lock screen on my phone, I wear a dog tag necklace with his name on it, and my messenger bag has “I Run 4” and his picture on it.
The relationships that are developing through this program are immense. I’ve written before about the different ways people connect – the buddy/runner connection, of course, but also the runner network. We have folks at all levels of fitness, so it’s a great resource when you have a question or need advice.
While the program is for adults and children challenged with mobility issues, many of our buddies are special needs children. Parents talk about how isolated they felt before, and how incredible it is to have the bond of someone running for your child as well as the support from other parents going through the same things you are.
I feel richly blessed to have the privilege of working with and being inspired by such an incredible group. It’s a lot of hard work and long hours, but the results are so worth it.
What have you done lately that brings both satisfaction and inspiration?