As the MRF’s National Director of the Miles for Melanoma program, I often read Competitor
magazine’s articles about charity running. A recent story by associate editor Caitlyn Pilkington
reminded me of the very reasons I first started running. A long, long time ago I decided to run my first marathon and I chose to do it with a charity training program. There were a few reasons for that choice, but the main was I didn’t think I could do it without the help and support of my donors. Don’t misunderstand - I wasn’t looking for the donors to cheer me on, but I knew that if I failed to complete the program I could never deal with the guilt of letting them down. And it worked!
That marathon changed my life. Afterwards, I made a career change - I went to work for a friend who owns a catering and event business so I could learn event planning; all with the intention of getting a job with a non-profit. Two years later I had come full circle and was on staff with a non-profit to train volunteers to raise money and run a marathon.
I’d always been a volunteer, a donor, a helper. I gave time, money, blood. But I was never fully invested until I put a huge physical challenge in place, motivated by a worthy cause. When I trained with people who committed themselves to running 26.2 miles while raising thousands of dollars for charity, I realized just what it takes to make a difference in this world. When you literally give your sweat and tears to a cause, it changes your whole perspective.
I have been very lucky. I don’t have cancer and I don’t have a debilitating disease. I don’t really have anything that keeps me from running or swimming or biking or being physically active. But that year, so long ago, I met people who do. I met caregivers, patients, loved ones who knew they had to make a difference and had to do it in a meaningful way. I was motivated by their dedication and I’ve made it my life’s work to help others do the same.
For years now I’ve been working with new athletes, strong athletes, new patients, long term patients and their friends and family to help them reach the finish line. To help them change their own lives and the lives of those who need research and medical care to live another day. These are the people who inspire me every day. These are the people who are changing the world. Since I have been working with the MRF, I’ve watched these amazing people raise millions, yes millions of dollars to fund melanoma research, promote sun safety and education, and to advocate for those suffering from this deadly disease.