1. Because you can.
If I can do it, so can you. I agreed to run in the St. Jude half marathon with my brother months ago and I honestly had planned on training for it but life got the best of me and as I stood in corral #11 out of 15 waiting to pass the start line, I realized that I hadn’t actually ran for about two months before I was about to conquer 13.1 miles of Memphis. Luckily, I was not the only person who didn’t run the entire time and the next day I definitely wasn’t the only person in the city who was having trouble walking. I was probably sorer than I had ever been in my life the day after but I was happy with the fact that I was able to finish at all. I’m not saying you should go out and do something that you know your body can’t do but there is so much more to these races than running and you shouldn’t feel that you’re not welcome to participate in charity races like this just because you’re not an experienced runner.
2. There are so many charities you can support.
I ran for the St. Jude Kids, and every ounce of pain it may have caused me was absolutely worth it. I only had to raise $500 dollars to participate in the half marathon and thanks to everyone who donated I was able to raise that and more. I wish I could have raised thousands but I know that even the smallest donations make a big impact and I’m so thankful to all of my donors. Whether it’s for St. Jude or another charity that hosts races or walks, let that be your motivation. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate running and there’s not much that will motivate me to run one mile never mind thirteen but it was all worth it knowing that it was for such an amazing cause.
Pretty much everyone has seen the St. Jude commercials on TV, but incase you haven’t you should know that St. Jude is a research hospital who cares for children with cancer and life threatening illnesses. The most amazing thing about St. Jude hospital is that they won’t turn a family away or charge them for anything. Regardless of where they’re from or how much money they have they aren’t charged for housing, travel or treatment. This is why donations are so important to St. Jude, because it allows them to help children and search for a cure to childhood cancers. St. Jude actually has the highest survival rate for childhood cancers but the most important thing they give to families everyday is hope.
Needless to say, this was my motivation to keep going. The chance to help St. Jude keep doing what they’re doing but also the kids themselves. These kids are fighting for their lives, and their families are right there with them. I’ve been blessed in my life, my friends, family and myself have always been healthy. If these kids and their families can fight cancer, we can all make it 13 miles.
3. People are there to cheer you on.
If you’ve ever needed an ego boost, a half marathon is the perfect place to get it. Never in my life have I been high fived so much in one day, or called a hero. There were thousands of people who spent the day on the side of the road cheering the runners on. There were actual cheerleaders, there were marching bands, and there was a ton of live music through out the entire race. It was like a party, except you were either running or speed walking the whole time. I was even offered a shot of rum at mile 10 and I took it. In retrospect I realize that was an extremely stupid thing to do for so many reasons, but in the end I made it anyways, and if alcohol is your motivator you should know that most races do reward you with beer or even margaritas at the end.
More importantly the energy surrounding the course was electric and an absolute morale booster for even the most exhausted runners. Handmade signs, live music, endless high fives and complete strangers calling my name and cheering me on kept me running long after I thought it was possible.
The other runners were great too, some wore tutus, or dressed as Santa and his elves. The runners who inspired me the most were those who held pictures of the St. Jude children they were running for, or wore the names of children they were running in memory of.
We were all running together, people who just wanted to help, people who were fighting for their child’s life and people who were running for a life lost.
4. It’s a great way to see the city.
The St. Jude Marathon took place in Memphis, Tennessee and it was my first time in the city. Coming from Boston, we took a plane and didn’t have a car with us. Our hotel was down town and some of the things I wanted to see weren’t exactly within walking distance. The half marathon however, took me places that I normally wouldn’t consider to be within walking distance.
During the course of the race we ran down Beale street, which is a must see if you’re going to Memphis. I ran along the Mississippi and saw the biggest Bass Pro shop I’ve seen to date. Memphis also has some beautiful architecture and there are art pieces scattered throughout the city.
The most memorable place the course took us was through the gates of St. Jude Hospital, where we were met with more cheering. Thirteen miles allowed me to see more of the city than I would have spending a weekend in Memphis without a car.
5. It’s about so much more than money.
Even if you are not able to donate much, you can still run for a charity. It was only fifty dollars to register for the St. Jude marathon, after that you rely on donors to help you fundraise, and for a good cause it’s not hard to find people who are willing to help. Donations are a huge part of this marathon since it takes about 2 million dollars per day to run St. Jude, but donations aside, when you run you’re doing so much more.
Looking back I’m now ashamed to think that I ever complained about having to run or ever wondered why just donating money wasn’t enough. When I ran through the gates of the hospital there were tons of people on the sides of the road holding pom-poms, signs and cups of water. These people were volunteers, parents and school kids. There was one face in that crowd that I won’t forget. The face of a St. Jude patient. A small boy in a wheelchair, his father standing behind him, a boy who is fighting for his life but came outside to thank us with the huge smile on his face. At that moment I realized how important it is to the kids and their families to know that they’re not fighting this alone. Not only that boy but thousands of kids just like him deserve to know that they’re not alone, were fighting with them and we want them here, we want them to survive.
All along they were our motivation to run, to get up early and stand on the side of the road handing out paper cups, directing traffic and dealing with confused, angry drivers. Maybe we can be motivation for them too, for the kids and their families to keep fighting and for the amazing doctors, nurses and researchers who are working to cure this horrible disease. Maybe if we keep running year after year, they will see that we care and we can keep the hope alive, because hope is generated by so much more than a dollar sign.
If you’d like to help St. Jude you can donate here.
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Here’s to hope and finding a cure,