I ran a half marathon Saturday. I don’t say that to brag, because it really had nothing to do with me. I ran 13.1 miles on a hot, hilly course for a little boy named Bennett who is my daily inspiration and motivation but who I have never met in person. He is the reason I finished, and he will be receiving my medal this week.
You see, for over a year, I have been part of a group called I Run 4 (click for more information) which pairs runners with children and adults with special needs and disabilities. We currently have nearly 5,400 matches, and almost 18,000 members in the closed Facebook group. I have the privilege of coordinating those matches, and get to hear awesome stories of lives changed because of them.
In fact, our founder and executive director Tim Boyle and VP Amy Courts took part in a Make A Wish event over the weekend in which the child’s wish was to meet her runner – how amazing is that? Instead of a trip to DisneyWorld, she wanted to meet the person who dedicates miles to her.
I get teary just thinking about what it will be like when I meet Bennett and his family someday. We have become family through our daily communications of miles run, updates and progress – in fact he calls me his “running mom” and my mom is his “running grandma.” He has Down syndrome, so I hear about his struggles as well as his successes and agonize over or celebrate each one.
Knowing that I run in his honor gets me out there when it’s cold, or rainy, or I just don’t feel like running. I think about and pray for him while I run. Quite honestly, there were a few points in the race the other day that I wanted to just quit, but I thought about why I was doing it and it kept me going. My first thought when I crossed the finish line was “that was for you, Bennett!”
It amazes me what a difference it makes when you are doing something for someone else – how incredible it is when it’s not about you anymore, but in honor of them. What a huge responsibility that is to stay focused, but it can make the pain, tiredness and negative things melt away.
Another bright spot in the race was the chance to meet two other people from I Run 4, and see face to face people who have experienced the same thing I have by running for someone else and being inspired by them. I tell you, it really is life changing. One of the girls recognized my name and thanked me for giving her a great buddy. Pretty cool.
Today I am still nursing a pretty sore body, I will be back out there tomorrow logging more miles. Because it’s not about me – I Run 4 Bennett!