This December 7th, I am running my 100th marathon.
I have 3 goals for this race:
1. Show up at the Starting Line.
2. Cross the Finish Line.
3. Raise a minimum of $10,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The plan is to hit $10K, then go from there.
Here's why I'm doing this:
1. Because in 1996 when I ran my first marathon in Chicago, I had no idea how important running would become in my life. I could not have imagined all the incredible things that would happen because I have consistently chosen motion, forward momentum, and activity over lethargy, apathy, and inaction. I run for those who can't, believing it is my moral obligation to do so simply because I can.
2. Because in 2016 when I ran my first marathon as a St. Jude Hero, I had very little understanding of the depth and breadth of the work of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. I did not know that founder Danny Thomas distinctly chose to build the hospital in the south, where systemic racism had denied black kids access to healthcare for generations. Embedded in the St. Jude mission statement is that, "no child is denied treatment based on race, religion, or a family's ability to pay." When St. Jude opened its doors on February 4, 1962, these words were even more revolutionary than they are today.
3. Because in 2019, here and now, gearing up for Marathon #100, I think of all the moments I have amassed thus far in this long and wonderful journey:
I think of the pouring rain of Marathon #99 just last month, and the fact that I slogged across that Finish Line, and that WE CRUSHED the goal of raising $9,900 by banking $10,300.02 for St. Jude!
I think of Marathon #85 in Indianapolis in 2016, my second race for St. Jude, and how when I saw that there were no St. Jude Heroes running it, I emailed to say, "I'll be THE Hero in Indy, and together with my awesome supporters, we'll raise $10,000." I remember the crisp autumn sunshine on race day, and the stranger on the sidelines chanting, "Mentally tough. Grind it out. What's your mantra? I can and I will." And I remember the moment several weeks later when one little donation moved the needle past the $10K mark for St. Jude. That will remain one of the best moments of my life for the rest of my life.
And I think about every single time I've been to Memphis, and how every single time, I learn a little something new, some new detail, that makes me want to support St. Jude even more. Whether it's the brigade of little red wagons that transport the kids down the halls of the hospital -- because a red wagon is much nicer to a kid than a gurney -- or the atrium draped with the flags of every country where St. Jude doctors and staff were born -- and it's a tapestry of hundreds of beautiful colors from across the globe -- or the teenage patient giving me a high-five around Mile 6 of last year's Memphis Marathon, and how her eyes shined so brightly in the morning sun even though she was being treated for cancer. I hope she keeps getting better. I want to do my part to see that she does.
These are the things that energize me to run and inspire me to help. How incredibly fortunate am I that I have the ability to do both?
And I am so emboldened by this work to now suggest that you are fortunate, too, because you have the distinct opportunity to be a part of it.
Any donation you make is a generous donation. Every dollar you give goes straight to the St. Jude mission: Finding cures. Saving children.
Thank you for your kindness and your care, and for fueling me through all the miles that lead to #100. Thank you for joining me on this wondrous journey, which I know for certain is just getting started.