Day #39: 140 team miles
Columbus, Ohio – Moundsville, West Virginia
Running Partner: Sydney, Sarah and Bree
Today turned out to be full of surprises! Though we had some setbacks, we met some AMAZING people and once again I am left in wonder at all the good in our world.
Today I have a number of dedications (as I will for the next couple of days) as we near the end of our journey across our beautiful nation. I dedicated my miles to Jenn, Brittany, Steve and Bree.
I dedicated my run today to Jenn Leininger, who at 24 years old, is fighting reoccurring thyroid cancer. She was my athletic trainer this past spring while I played lacrosse at Newberry College and is one of the kindest, most patient people I know! She is a super strong person and I know she will get through this. 🙂 Her sister has set up an account where you can buy a Team Jenn t-shirt to help with medical costs, just go to: booster.com/teamjenn. All funds raised will help pay for Jenn’s medical expenses! Thank you! 🙂
I also ran today in memory of Jenn’s friend, Brittany Disney, who passed away after a brave fight with cancer at age 23 this past Sunday. I would be wonderful if you would please keep her and Jenn and their family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you!
Today most of the team, including myself, ran in honor of one of our own who had leukemia at age 7. Bree is now cancer free and inspiring others as she runs with us across the country but at one time she was a little girl with cancer and brittle bones because of her chemo treatments. It’s amazing how she was able to beat this deadly disease and now fights back! It was really cool to get to honor her and the strength and courage through which she carries through life. Thanks Bree for inspiring all of us every day!
And last, but certainly not least, I dedicated today to Steve Ellis! Steve just finished his third (and hopefully final) round of reconciliation chemo! He has inspired his coworkers and friends at the Navigator Management Partner of Columbus office, who told us of his story at the dinner we attended yesterday, and now has inspired our team as well! Stay strong Steve, we’re thinking of you and keeping you in our prayers! *The dinner was a fundraiser for the James Cancer Center.
After our 5am wake up our wonderful hosts (at Church of the Messiah) showered us with more food! They made so many wonderful things!!! Everything from gluten free muffins to piles of fresh blueberries and even breakfast pizzas! They have been so kind to us, so generous, and God’s love has definitely shown through them these past two days. They were even wiling to wake up super early to come run the first two miles of the day with us…in the rain! I just cannot even begin to express our gratitude!
Running together was an unforgettable experience, we ran down a beautiful bike path, and I had the chance to meet the sweetest lady! Kathy told me about the church’s Run for God program. She said it began about three years ago with just 30-40 people participating and now has a crowd of 200 runners. Every year the program continues to attract more and more people and she said it has been an incredible experience! Many of these people had never run before but now train together and are going to run a 5K at the end of the program. They are training right now for a 5K in September, so if you’re in the Westerville area, I would definitely recommend going to cheer them on! 🙂 It’s always fun talking to someone who I definitely would never have met had I not joined the 4K and finding out how much we have in common! -> It was really cool because it turns out that Kathy’s daughter’s college roommate was from Eugene, Oregon (like me) and her daughter now lives in Spartanburg (South Carolina) which is about an hour from where I go to college. -> Kathy said that the Run for God program is held at many churches nationwide so when I get back to school I’m definitely going to see if there’s one in the area. If you’re reading this Kathy, know we are all there in spirit every step of the way and wish you all the best of luck with your training!
For more information please check out: http://messiahumc.net/ministries/run-for-god
The mission of the program as told by their website: “Run for God is a ministry that uses running as a means to learn and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ while understanding the parallels of endurance running and enduring faith. Our mission is to prepare people to become better witnesses to Christ physically, mentally and spiritually. Programs provide practical training plans aimed at running either a 5K, 10K or Half-Marathon, but with a Christian focus. Although people run for many different reasons, these programs are for those who want to make God the center of their lives—or need to be reminded to do so. It is not a competition against others, but rather a personal challenge for each individual.”
The next part of today’s adventure took place after we had all piled into the vans* to try to find the safe roads the leg leaders had looked at online. It turned out these roads were all closed due to construction…
*A note on the vans: Van 1= No-horn Bessie (pretty self explanatory, we remedied this by adding a cow bell to the passenger seat’s cup holder). Van 2= the Flat Tire Van thanks to a construction nail right outside of Boulder, Colorado. Van 3 = the only “good” van (since it’s had no problems so far). And the beloved Van 4 also known as “Scar” or “Dan’s Van” thanks to a day 1 incident in which the poor driver took a turn a little bit too tight (being used to driving a small car) and scraped against a fire hydrant, leaving a number of holes in the metal.
….So we did what 4K does best, stayed flexible and regrouped! We were parked by the loveliest old metal bridge over the Muskingum river. While we were waiting for Van 2 a lady saw the writing on our vans and pulled over to ask if we were accepting donations. She then gave us a ten dollar bill and headed on her way. What a sweet thing to do! Van 2 finally found us (having gotten lost down a 10mph unpaved road heading in the wrong direction…) parked in the parking lot of the North Star Pizza and Ice Cream Shop in Blue Rock, Ohio.
Once we were all together we drove a bit more, looking for safe roads, but eventually decided to head to the host (First Christian Church in Moundsville) to complete our miles. My running buddy for the day was Sydney and we joined up with Sarah and Bree to run out and backs from the church. It was getting pretty hot and humid but after living in South Carolina during the summer, nothing really compares, so I felt fine. 😛 We ran along a pretty main street and in neighborhoods near Grand Vue park. Then the awesome wrestling coach from John Marshall high school (home of the Monarchs/whose mascot is a lion) allowed us to use the showers at their gym. It’s always so nice when people allow us to use their showers because there’s nothing like a good shower after run!
Dinner was provided by our hosts and was a fantastic feast! We had pasta, salad, bread and delicious desserts and they even made sure to have gluten free pasta and even brownies for our three gluten free teammates! The First Christian Church, it turns out, is a huge supporter of the American Cancer Society and participates in Relay For Life. They have actually raised the most money of all the teams in town! Over $10,000 dollars to help in the fight against cancer! Which is absolutely fantastic!!!
Also joining us for dinner was an amazing woman who works at Reynolds Hospital in Moundsville as an assistant physical therapist. She is very involved in the local Relay for Life and has taken a leadership role with the program. When she and her husband were around age 25, and she was pregnant with their son, her husband was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They worried he was going to die because that’s what they thought happens when you get cancer. Luckily he finished his last round of chemo right as their son was born but what stressful time that must have been! I can’t imagine what it must have been like for her to act as a caregiver, at all, let alone while she was pregnant! What a strong and inspiring family! (Later her husband also had Melanoma so they are no strangers to the fight against this deadly disease.) And now Suzie has been helping with Relay for Life for over 8 years! What an amazing role model! She also told us how Relay has been a place where she has been able to meet others who have “been where I’ve been” and have gone through some of the same experiences and challenges.
Relay for Life is such a wonderful program and raises so much money for the American Cancer Society each year! I’ve done it with my church in Newberry for the past couple of years (though this past year I was unable to make the actual event) and I would highly encourage you to look into getting involved in your local area! Check out: http://www.relayforlife.org!
What a great day with some incredible people! Now it’s time to go find my sleeping bag. 🙂