If you know me, you know I love to run. Running is just what I do and it always has been a part of who I am. But I don't want to just run. I want to make my miles matter and use my passion for running to bring about good for other people. I want my running to be about something bigger than myself.
So that brings me to my goal: To run 4 of the major marathons in the United States for charities that work to make a difference in the lives of others.
Step One: Marine Coprs Marathon in October 2015 for St. Jude's Children Hospital.
Next on the list: Chicago Marathon in October 2016 for Project Purple.
Why Project Purple? Well, let me share a few statistics with you.
- Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer related deaths
- Pancreatic cancer is projected to be the 2nd leading cause of cancer related deaths by 2020.
- Pancreatic cancer is the least funded of the top 10 cancer killers.
- Pancreatic Cancer is the only cancer on the top 10 list with a single digit survival rate after 5 years.
These statistics, if you let them truly sink in, are staggering but when you consider the lives of the people these statistics represent, they are down right heart-breaking.
If you don't mind, I would like to share the stories of the lives of people I have had the priviledge of knowing and therefore also witnessing their lives forever being altered by this relentless disease.
Tony has been a lifelong friend of my dad. They grew up in San Antonio together. Played high school baseball together and went on to play college baseball together. Tony played first base and Dad played second base so they were quite the team. They have remained close over the years. When I was a kid, I loved when Tony and my dad got together because it always meant that there was going to be some great story-telling and lots of laughter. Over a year ahgo now, Tony was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. He just recently completed his treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation. Please pray for Tony, his wife, Lisa, and their adult children, Brandon and Erin, as they are dealing with this disease and all that comes with it. Tony, we are praying alongside you, praying for a complete and total healing in your life!
I met Martha when I was 11 years old. She and her husband, Carl, travelled from Oklahoma to Pennslyvania to fulfill God's calling in their lives to start a church in rural Lancaster County. This church, by the grace of God, began in the living room in my home and grew to minister to the community from its current store-front location. Carl served as our pastor and Martha served faithfully along side him. Martha encouraged everyone with her wise words and tender smile. She used her experiences to gentlly mentor women around her. Martha used her passion for writing to teach others to write their own life stories. From Martha I learned at a young age what it means to be a humble servant of Christ and to faithfully serve the Lord wherever He calls you in different seasons of your life. Martha gracefully and courageously battled Pancreatic Cancer later in life and soon after, Martha met her Savior face to face.
I don't exactly remember at what point I met Diann. She was someone I had the priviledge of knowing for just about as long as I can remember, as she and her husband, Terry, were good friends with my parents. Terry was a pastor and Diann joyfully served alongside him throughout his ministry. I have many pleasant childhood memories of attending church services under their leadership and enjoying meals in their welcoming home afterwards. Diann was a good ole southern woman with a deep Georgia accent that reminded me of "home" while I was growing up in Pennsylvania. I cling to two specific sweet memories of Diann. One is her smile. Diann's smile was absolutely infectious. Grinning from ear to ear, she could light up an entire room with her smile. The other memory I hold near and dear to my heart is Diann's gift of playing the piano. She played the piano with such grace and ease. She knew the great hymns of our faith by heart so she would close her eyes, gently sway side to side and allow her fingers to gracefully move about the keys producing such a beautiful sound that invited us in to worship her Savior with her. I cherished Diann's musical gift so much that I asked her to travel from Pennsylvania to Texas to play the piano at my wedding, which she graciously did. From Diann, I learned about choosing to live joyfully at all times and the geniune act of worship. After a tough battle with Pancreatic Cancer, Diann claimed her victory in Christ and was welcomed into heaven on June 23, 2014.
I met Sara, or Mrs. Metzler as I called her, when I was a senior in high school. She was the mother of a young freshmen that I met on my cross country team. Her daughter, Shannon, and I began an atypical friendship as a senior and a freshmen. Shannon was 14. I was 17, had a car and was used to going out to do things with friends. Mrs. Metzler had every reason to be protective of her young daughter but she put her trust in me and allowed our friendship to grow. It was a trust that I always respected and appreciated. That trust continued to build throughout the school year, as did Shannon and I's friendship. The following year, after I graduated, I left Pennylvania and moved to Texas to go to college. I left Pennsylvania knowing that I had a life-long friend in Shannon Metzler. College breaks and summer vacations always meant time with Shannon. We spent so much time together in each other's homes with each other's families. We were and still, even 15 years later, are best friends. Those years of friendship allowed me the priviledge of getting to know Mrs. Metzler. I saw her lovingly and continually serve her family, friends and anyone in need. She never met a stranger and she certainly did not meet anyone that she wouldn't go the extra mile to help. From Mrs. Metzler, I learned what it means to be the hands and feets of Jesus as a willing servant of Christ. In September 2013, I was stunned to learn that Mrs. Metzler had been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. As so often is the case with Pancreatic Cancer, the disease worked rentlentless and quickly in Mrs. Metzler. On October 31, 2013, Mrs. Metlzer went to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
These stories of these wonderful people are the reason the statistics associated with Pancreatic Cancer break my heart. They are not just a number. They are real people, whose lives and the lives of their family and friends, were forever changed.
This brings me back to my simple conclusion. Pancreatic Cancer is a horrible disease that needs to be stopped.
So I will run. I will run 26.2 miles in the Chicago Marthon on October 9th, 2016. I will run for Project Purple and raise money and awareness to fight back against the disease that has left its impact all over my life and the lives of those that I love.
Will you stand and fight with me?