I have always been a runner. I grew up in a house a lot like my own now. My parents were runners and would race on the weekends. Sometimes I would go and hold down a water station or collect bib strips (this was back in the day before time chips). I ran because that’s what I grew up doing. It was a healthy lifestyle and something I wasn’t too shabby at either.
I ran off and on over the years after having kids. I found my place in Stroller Warriors® and loved having a great place for my children, as well as myself. But I still wasn’t consistent and felt like I was running just to run.
Then my son was diagnosed with special needs. My husband was deployed, Stroller Warriors® was supporting me, and I felt I needed something; a way to make this a positive experience. I was overwhelmed and depressed. Several Warriors had just finished running the Marine Corps Marathon and I had just finished my first half marathon. I found myself thinking, “What better way to get through the deployment than to run through it!” I decided to run my first ever marathon! If being a special needs parent was going to be daunting, I was going to take it on with a marathon. Running always helped me relieve stress, so this was perfect!
At the time, therapists weren’t sure what my son was struggling with and he was diagnosed with Apraxia, a rare motor disorder in which the individuals have a difficult time with motor planning to perform tasks like talking or eating. Raising funds for Apraxia Kids became my main focus. I wasn’t focused on how hard the miles were getting during training, how tired I was on the cold winter runs, or how lonely I was with my husband gone and three small children to raise. I was doing something bigger than myself, and that helped me to shift my focus away from me and move it to other people. I wasn’t running for me anymore, I was running for them.
That training cycle and my first marathon forced me to see running in a whole new light. Running wasn’t just about me or how I grew up anymore, it was now a way that I could raise awareness and at the same time could help to make other peoples’ lives better! I have since fundraised for several other causes, including Organization of Autism Research and Semper Fi Fund! The races may not have gone the way I wanted them too, but it wasn’t about me. It was about who I can help.
I want to encourage you to train with and race for a charitable organization. When the focus of your race shifts, it can have an astounding impact on your mentality and your training. But not only that, you can take pride in the fact that you are raising awareness for a special cause and are helping many people in the process.
If you’re not sure which charity you want to race and raise money for, you can start by using the website www.charitywatch.org. CharityWatch is an organization you can use to vet charity organizations. This is a great resource to check where the money is going and how much is being used to help those you want to impact.
We can do so much. It’s a joy to give back! I hope you will one day join me in racing for a cause!
If you’ve already raced for a cause, please tell us about it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!