I continue to be amazed every time I post a set of matches for I Run 4, a group that pairs runners with those who cannot run. You can click here for more information. Runners wait for up to 7 or 8 weeks to be matched with an adult or child buddy who has mobility issues and they dedicate their runs to their buddy.
Founder Tim Boyle began the group when he started dedicating his runs to Michael Wasserman, a Facebook friend who is 52, and has Down syndrome and bilateral hip dysplasia, and is now confined to a wheelchair.
I myself run for Bennett, a little boy with Down syndrome whose family calls me his “running mom” – and I can’t even explain how inspirational it is to run for Bennett – mostly because it’s not about me anymore. Even on a day I don’t feel like running, knowing that I am doing it for Bennett pushes me out the door with my running shoes on. I even wear a dog tag with his name on it every day.
I say all that to explain that I do understand first-hand how exciting it is to be matched – and yet I continue to be startled by the exuberance of the responses to each match post.
There are always lots of “yays” and “woohoos” and exclamation points, but also comments about the support and inspiration runner and buddy will give each other, such as “I’ll run my heart out for you,” or “we have lots of places to go together.”
“I am very honored to have this opportunity!” is another statement frequently seen, as well as remarks about learning more about the conditions and challenges of the buddies.
There are plenty of side benefits of this group as well. Not only does it motivate the runners, but provides a support group for parents who may have felt very alone and vulnerable before in dealing with the complications of their children’s conditions. And it is definitely building awareness within the group as well as in the community of these challenges.
And prayer. Prayer is a huge part of this group and we even post prayer requests every day so the runners waiting to be matched can pray for those on the prayer list.
This week, we have exceeded 7,000 members in the closed Facebook group, and 2,000 matches. On average, there are 20-40 new matches every day. There are about 1,300 runners on the waiting list.
That is a lot of relationships being developed and lives being changed. What a privilege to be part of God’s work through I Run 4!