I love to run, but I learned a long time ago from personal experience that running a marathon is hard. It is obviously a difficult physical feat, and finding the time as a full-time working mom and wife to train properly is nearly impossible.
I never planned to run a full marathon again.
Then last fall, a little blurb appeared on the ChadTough Facebook page asking if anyone would be interested in running the Chicago Marathon on behalf of The ChadTough Foundation, and I knew immediately that running another marathon was inevitable for me.
Chad Carr’s story was just the tip of the iceberg. As time went on and as I became more invested and involved in The ChadTough Foundation and as a ChadTough Champion, I realized how many precious babies are taken by Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). I realized how many families are shaken and devastated by this cruel disease. And I became more and more frustrated at the lack of funding and awareness of something so deadly.
As a ChadTough Champion, I am constantly learning about more children being diagnosed with this, and yet, it is considered a “rare” disease and there is virtually no federal funding for finding a cure. I might not have personally known Chad or Tommy or Emma or any of the other children diagnosed, but the fact is that I could. DIPG doesn’t discriminate, and it could attack someone I know someday.
Because of this, it has become my mission to raise awareness and funding to protect these children and their families … their lives matter and they deserve hope.
Pushing Through Pain
So despite being busy, I started training again. It was not according to a recommended schedule. As a busy mom, I did the best I could when I could. And when it got physically difficult due to injuries (and it did … oh! It did!), I focused on my “why.”
Yes, I was doing an activity I love and there are bragging rights that go along with running a marathon, but the children and families with DIPG carried me over the rough spots. They got me through each and every dark spot because — every time I got frustrated — I remembered why I was doing this. My pain was nothing compared to theirs, and this was the least I could do to help them.
It worked. Every time I had a frustrating training day or had physical therapy, my focus would become clear about why I was doing this.
Spreading the Word
Committing to the marathon was not just giving up my time and pushing myself physically, it required raising a minimum of $2,500.
I cannot personally imagine being out of my comfort zone more than when asking my loved ones or strangers for money. I have never so much as asked anyone I know to buy candy for one of my children’s activities. It is not easy, but — again — I would remind myself that this was not about me.
So I put it out on Facebook occasionally. I would post a link to my fundraiser, and — just as importantly — I would give people a reminder about The ChadTough Foundation and its purpose. I would send e-mails to small groups of individuals at a time. I would go more in-depth and remind them that every little bit helps.
I would hold small bake sales at work. I had work done on my house and would talk to the contractors about my mission … I got a donation from the company that installed my blinds, and I don’t even remember talking to them about it!
Talking about ChadTough and DIPG and my marathon just became so routine that I raised $2,500. It took time and effort and a little discomfort, but it is nothing I wouldn’t do again and again.
The Bigger Picture
There is still no cure for DIPG. But in the few years I have been aware of its existence, I personally am feeling like there is finally hope. There are new discoveries and there is an awareness that wasn’t there before.
I can always brag that I ran a marathon, but the thing that I am most proud of, however, is that one day when there IS a cure for DIPG, I get to say that I was a part of that. I get to say that — in my own small way — I made a difference.
One day, hopefully sooner than later, we will hear of that breakthrough and the word “cure,” and I will be reminded that it was worth every physical ache and pain. I will be reminded that I helped save lives. And I know in that moment, that it was worth it all and that I would do it all over again.
Are you interested in running on behalf of The ChadTough Foundation? Sign up here!