Victoria Townsend wrote -
Please support me as I raise money for She's the First by running the 2017 NYC Marathon November 5th, 2017!
Hello Friends, Family, Colleagues, and anyone else who has happened upon my page!
Thank you for joining me on my journey to complete my FIRST marathon, the 2017 New York City Marathon on November 5th. I will be fundraising for She's the First, an incredible organization that fosters leadership and empowers girls around the world by providing educational scholarships and mentoring programs to girls in low-income countries. I am fundraising for She's the First in honor of my younger sister, Rebecca Draper Townsend, and the #RememberingRebecca campaign.
I have been supporting She's the First for over 5 years, starting with a tie-dye cupcake fundraiser during my sophomore year at Dartmouth College, which paved the way for me to establish the FIRST Ivy League campus chapter in 2012. In 2015, I ran my FIRST 10K race for #SweatForSTF with my older sister, Monica Kraft (former president of She's the First at the University of Notre Dame). In that same year, I helped to form the She's the First Alumni Association to keep alums of STF campus chapters involved post-graduation, and served as the association’s President.
2015 started out on a high note, but that tragically changed on Thursday, July 2nd. I was flying out West for the long weekend, and upon landing, received a phone call from my older sister that would change my life. My younger sister, Rebecca Townsend, was struck by a car crossing the street to watch a fireworks show and was killed immediately. Rebecca had graduated high school less than a month before, and was only 6 weeks away from starting college at the University of Notre Dame. Rebecca was the youngest of 5 Townsend girls, the 16th of 22 Draper cousins, in the top 10 of her graduating class, and my best friend.
The days that followed were the most painful days our lives as Rebecca's family and friends. But through that darkness, Rebecca sent us a ray of light - one little sign, as if to let us know it was all going to be okay.
The night that Rebecca crossed the street, she was with a friend; he was critically injured in the accident, but thankfully survived. When he left the hospital, he came to our house, and the first words out of his mouth were, "Rebecca saved my life. The last thing I remember was Rebecca saying 'Watch out!' and pushing me." The knowledge that Rebecca was able to spare another innocent life from being lost that night was so remarkable - but carried so much more weight a few days later.
A group of us were grieving in Rebecca's room together, sharing stories, when we found a note sitting on her bed; written on the outside in purple pen was simply: "For Future Rebecca Townsend." Apparently, this was a high school assignment that was returned to the kids at the end of their senior year so that the students could remember who they were at the beginning of their high school days. She must have just gotten it back post-graduation - but as I read the note, I burst into tears. Because in the middle of the page, I saw the following:
o Kiss in the rain
o Fly to Spain
o Save a life"
Rebecca had traveled to Spain with my parents the year prior. She had just started dating her first real boyfriend, who gave her the opportunity to kiss in the rain. And with her final act, she was able to cross off the most selfless, kind, incredible item on her bucket list - to save a life.
Rebecca's remarkable story spread around the world, and in the days and weeks that followed, we were inundated with stories of people who had done acts of kindness in Rebecca's memory. I was so awed and impressed that one little girl, not even 18 years old, had had such a positive impact on the world. I always knew Rebecca was an angel, but that's because she was my little sister - but to see her legacy of kindness, generosity, and selflessness to travel across the globe made me realize how much we can all do to make the world the better place. In the individual acts of paying for a stranger's coffee or donating to a charity, we are leaving this world just a little better than how we found it, exactly what Rebecca would want.
Rebecca was incredibly involved in She's the First, starting the chapter at Immaculate High School in Danbury, CT. In order to carry on her legacy of charity, I have continued fundraise for and promote awareness of She's the First. In Rebecca's memory, I'm hoping to help support other girls and young women to change the world and leave it better than they found it. From bakesales at my office (thanks BlackRock!) to fundraising for my first half marathon last year, while simultaneously serving on the Alumni Association board and being a member of the Young Professionals Network, I'm inspired by Rebecca every day to continue my work with STF.
So that leads me to the ask - this year, I'm taking on my biggest challenge yet. I'm running my FIRST ever marathon for She's the First, and have set a fundraising goal of $5,000. I would appreciate any support you can provide, as well as any tips for how to train (for someone who is prone to IT band syndrome and bad joints, and who has literally never run more than 13.1 miles!).
Thank you so much for your support, and please share this story and my donation link along. Even if you can't provide financially, please share Rebecca's story and join me in #RememberingRebecca through acts of kindness and charity every day. Every little act counts. We all need it.
All my love,