The high of the Rock N Roll Savannah half marathon is over and I’m able to sit and quietly reflect on everything that happened leading up to the race. Months ago when I set out to run a half marathon post birth of Valerie, I never imagined all that I would accomplish. Forget the race times, forget the logged miles, forget the weight lost… let’s talk about something much bigger than that.
Running is a part of my essence, it is who I am. I run because it opens up a part of my soul that is my self appreciation & self reflection. I love my body more when I run, not because of a number on the scale or in a pair of jeans but because I’m strong. My body is pushing me longer and longer distances every day and up until this point, I’ve gone the farthest, 18 miles, on my feet at one time. That is astonishing to me and I could not be more proud of my body. I love watching my body get better at running over time. Running is something that has 100% self accountability, you’re going to get out what you put in and you have no one else to depend on but yourself. Your time, your commitment, and your energy is what is going to push you to the next level, no one else. Running has given me some of the greatest highs I think I will ever endure. When something gives you this much joy, you should put it to use, and use it for good.
When you are passionate about anything, put your whole self into it. When you truly commit yourself to it, you’ll reap so much more than just the usual rewards. Yes, adding more miles to my training log will help get me faster, stronger, new medals and new PR’s but I’ve come to realize that I can put so much more value in my running by making my training log about my community. That is why I run for a cause, always.
When I started out looking for places to run for this year, I was over joyed when I found Birthdays For All. Their mission & message stood out to me. I’m a mom. I have two beautiful girls who I probably spoil more than I should. A birthday doesn’t go by without the extravagant themes, cakes, and presents. The more I read about Birthdays For All and these children that are right here in my community, going without anything for their birthday, including parents, broke my heart into a million pieces. Something so simple and yet I was taking it for granted, my children’s birthdays.
I set a goal to raise a total of $1500 for the organization. I am blessed and so very lucky to have such a huge support system within my network of family, friends, runners, and even strangers. I set up my crowdrise page and watched the donations start to come in, I was humbled. Then I was lucky enough to have over 30 local businesses donate prizes to a raffle drawing that raised over $700 towards the fundraiser. I can not thank my community enough for all of the phenomenal raffle prize donations as well as everyone who bought raffle tickets. Then slowly the days started to count down to my half marathon, which would mark the end of the fundraiser and I was still shy of my goal. I won’t lie, I was panicked as I drove off to Savannah that I wouldn’t hit my goal. I was more focused on this number than the number I wanted to hit in the race. Then the support rolled in and left my heart bursting at the seams as one donation after another poured in before I went to bed. That night, I hit (and surpassed) the goal, with a total of $1525 in donations.
I sat in the hotel bed sobbing. I am lucky to know some of the most giving, kind hearted, generous people who support me with everything that they have. It gave me the boost that I needed to go out and make them all proud with the race. I raced my heart out knowing that we hit this goal for Birthdays For All. I raced knowing that there are so many foster children in Charleston who were going to have the happiest of birthdays thanks to this fundraiser. I raced knowing that each step I took had so much more meaning behind it than a goal race time.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank each of you enough. How you all helped, whether it was sharing the donation page, donating, sending me cheers, or helping with the raffle, you all made such a difference in the lives of these children. Even though the race and fundraiser are over, I urge you to keep up with Birthdays for All on facebook. There is so much more you can do for them besides donating. They are such a beautiful part of our community and I look forward to working with Ben & Steffi again in the future.