Before I go any further, let me actually rewind to 10 months ago.
Last June, the organization I work for, People for Care and Learning, sponsored a 5K run on the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway. This 5K was our running community’s initial response to the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013.
As I helped plan for the 5K, I was glad to be a part of doing good for another community that was hurting — but to be honest with you, since I wasn’t a runner, it hadn’t impacted me the way it did my fellow 5K planners who consistently ran. When they spoke about the bombings, they spoke as if their own family members had been hurt. I recognized a fierce loyalty to one another in these runners, but still didn’t think it would be a community I would be involved in.
Out of that 5K, Run Now Relay was born.
The organizers of that small run felt like it wasn’t enough to just mail a check. They determined we should physically deliver a check, and more than that, deliver a spirit of solidarity and unity to the city of Boston.
Through our initial planning meetings, I continued to notice how supportive the running community was and came to my second, and most important recognition, I wanted to be a part of that community. That realization paired with always hearing runners say that their sport was “free therapy,” I knew it was time for me to hit the pavement.
As I struggled through a personal crisis nine months ago, I knew I had found a new community, plus, they sure were right about the free therapy!
Since becoming a runner, I’ve reached goals I thought were impossible. I’ve realized the importance of consistency and I’ve started to see the Boston Marathon bombings through a new set of eyes. It feels more personal now. I can’t grasp why anyone would want to hurt this community, this community that welcomed me in with grace, kindness and arms wide open.
While I’ll never get a chance to understand the “why” of the bombings, I will get a chance to stand up for what is right, and support those who were so unfairly treated. My primary job has been to use my skills with public relations to promote Run Now Relay to the media. However, I’m excited that I’ll now get a chance to put in some miles in support of the city of Boston.
If the actual eight-day journey proves to be anything like the last few weeks, I expect to be blown away with support. As someone who works at a nonprofit, I’m used to asking people and businesses to donate support, but with Run Now Relay, I’ve found myself answering calls from people asking me how THEY can support us.
Planning this journey has truly been a team effort, and I’ve never been more proud to be a part of a team. While we’ve made amazing strides in our fundraising over the past several months, I’m excited to see us work as a unit this week and completely blow the lid off our goal.
For some reason, I thought that I stopped learning the importance of teamwork back on my middle school softball team, but as it turns out, I’m currently learning my biggest lesson on unity. As I think back on a time when I had to memorize Jon Donne’s Meditation 17, this effort truly reminds me that, “no man is an island.”
If I could wish for one thing at the end of Run Now Relay, I would wish that Boston would realize that they are not an island; and in fact, all of mankind is with them.