What a journey we are embarking on. I am absolutely honored and humbled to have the opportunity to complete this once-in-a-lifetime journey.
As of today, I have completed about 20, give or take, miles through mountains, hills and flat lands. Currently, I am working on 72 hours of wake-time with just eight hours of sleep. Insane!
The journey has consisted of amazing opportunities. I met hikers traveling the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine on an epic journey themselves, as well as locals consisting of policemen, firemen and all others. One theme has remained consistent: kind, free-spirited people everywhere.
[Monday], our run started in Roanoke, Va., and we traveled out of the city through the countryside. Every stride of every leg of the journey was met with kindness and consistency from the people we came across. We began our day getting stopped by policemen for speeding and when they approached our vehicle, they noted our purpose and let us go.
Just a few short miles down the road, we came across another vehicle we were traveling with and they also were pulled over. To our delightful surprise, the cops had pulled them over to take pictures with our team! Way cool.
Later in the day, we were taking a picture in Bristol and we met a woman angered with us for taking pictures of a monument in the city. Immediately following her displeasure, we were met by Chelsea who worked for the local Chamber of Commerce. She was super kind and expressed her appreciation for us traveling through their city.
Once again, kindness!
I cannot begin to thank the people who have made this possible — from sponsors to people willing to open up their churches and pockets to bless the charities we are running for in Boston.
For me, this epic journey started almost a year ago, when I signed up for this crazy opportunity. I began training and fundraising to help these families we are touching through this journey. As the time grew closer, the excitement grew greater.
I can honestly say that this journey has already far exceeded my expectations. I am amazed. Yes, my legs hurt. My body is crying for rest. My mind is mixed and everything inside me says, “Stop now.” That is just not an option as we get closer to Boston.
I, along with everyone involved, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. We keep in mind our purpose. First, to glorify God. Second, to raise money for the families in need. Third, to bless everyone we touch along the trek in some positive way.
Amazed, humbled, honored, crazed, grateful, blessed — these are just a few adjectives that describe my feelings up until this point.
Thank you to all who have helped us make this journey possible back in Cleveland! No, not Cleveland, Ohio. I am talking about Cleveland, Tenn. We love to say everywhere we go we are from Cleveland, Tenn., also known as “The City With Spirit!”
(Editor’s Note: Stay up-to-date with the Run Now Relay team by going to runnowrelaylive.com. Click the ‘social media’ tab to see updates around the clock. Join in on the messages with a #runtoboston message.)
By MADISON TORRENCE Run Now Relay Runner
“Dr. Torrence, are you aware that she just lost her child?” the ER nurse exclaimed.
What makes people react to tragedy in such strong ways?
I asked this question to myself immediately after a tornado devastated the community of Bradley and surrounding counties.
I was called in on an emergency “code black” to our local hospital that night. The first patient I saw was a young woman, who immediately told me, “I’m not bad.” She continued, “You need to go see patients who are hurt worse than me.”
Imagine my reaction when I found out she had just been told her child was killed.
The devastation left after the Boston Marathon bombings also hit home to me. I had run the Boston Marathon in 2004, and felt a sort of kinship to those I watched run in terror as bombs exploded all around them. I had seen my own family many, many times in the stands cheering me on proudly as I finished one more marathon.
Runners are a community. When one of us is struck by injury or illness, many will “run” to the rescue. Boston felt the same. My wife and I immediately knew that we had to help in some way.
Writing about or discussing my own faith has always been a bit too personal for me. However, as I’ve grown as a Christian, I feel that telling one’s own story is a very important part of reaching out and helping your fellow man. My children can tell you, “Everything happens for a reason,” is a very common saying they hear from their father. I truly believe God places us in situations to see how we respond.
Will we hear the call and sit by the sidelines? Or, will we take His “nudge” and follow Him?
My wife and I felt this call this past winter. We had both recently discussed the sort of doldrums we had experienced with our spiritual lives. My wife made a very direct plea in her prayer journal. We were seeking His guidance for our next step.
It came one night in a phone call from a friend. “I know this sounds crazy ... but what would you think about a relay run to Boston to help raise money for local Boston charities?” Can it be a coincidence? An opportunity to serve in His name, on Holy week, to a community we feel so near and dear to our hearts.
And so began our story with Run Now Relay.
Our journey has pushed us mentally, physically and spiritually. My wife and I have never been very good at asking people for help. Raising more than $2,000 per person seemed like a lofty goal. It made us uncomfortable, but oftentimes the most important things do.
We prayed about it night after night with our children. We made calls, sent emails and became more comfortable with a variety of social media formats, in order to raise the money necessary. As of this writing, I cannot tell you how blessed we feel to have the support of family and friends who have donated more than $8,000 to our cause. Our entire relay team has pushed well past our goal of $50,000, as we collect along our route to New England.
So many of our prayers have been answered as we prepared to run to Boston.
As of this writing, my flight (or van) has completed two legs of our trip to Boston, running approximately 60 miles. Our entire team has covered more than 300 miles of the 1,075 total over the past 48-plus hours. We ran through Tennessee countryside — over rolling hills — while many who passed by would honk their support. I smiled many times pushing the miles over Highway 11 up the eastern portion of our great state.
My phone, strapped on a band to my arm, constantly rang to the cheering text from our team.
“Torrence on the road,” the team announces. “Go get ’em!”
When we stop in at country stores and gas stations, we hear the familiar cry of “You’re doing what?” It doesn’t take long for those we talk with to show their own Volunteer spirit and donate to our cause.
We encourage the locals, as we encourage you, the reader, to donate to our cause online at www.runnowrelaylive.com.
(Editor’s Note: Shout-outs and encouragements can be seen on the website tagboard by including “#runtoboston” within a Tweet, Facebook post or Instagram photo.)