Thursday, August 27, 2015

I Run 4

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 
Hebrews 13:1-2
I have been considering this post now for several weeks. I just couldn't put together the words that I thought would do my feelings any justice... I still can't.
So, I'm guilty. I admit that Facebook, social media, and morning news programs probably take up way too much of my time. I'm guilty of clicking on videos and shared posts about the positive and the inspiring. I'm guilty of watching news programs that are typically heavier on social news and viewer interest stories, than on actual hard news. I am perfectly capable of reading the headlines scrolling along the bottom of the screen but I'd rather listen to friendly and encouraging. I'm guilty of thinking there should be balance between tragic and inspirational stories, between mean-ness and bullying and kindness, and between crime and integrity. It's one of the reasons for the title of this blog - Finding Joy in an Ordinary World... I'm guilty of thinking we should look for joy, choose joy, recognize that we might actually be surrounded by joy.
I've been a member of this group for about a year and have been matched with an awesome little 4th grader buddy for about 6 months. This post really doesn't have as much to do with him as it does so many others in the group. See, for a year now, I've been reading over all the great accomplishments by runners and buddies and seeing great runner/buddy relationships develop (including my own). But, I have also seen the posts that always make that lump in my throat and blur my vision a little bit. They're the posts that mention when someone's buddy is suffering or, God forbid, lost their fight. 
Case in point: I Run 4 Michael

This is a non-profit organization founded by a man named Tim Boyle, in 2013. According to the website,, Tim took up running after quitting a 2-pack/day habit. While searching for running motivation (he clocked 15-20 miles per week), he came across and posted this quote to his facebook page: 

I run because I can and when I get tired I remember those who can’t run 
and I run harder for them.

A friend of his happened to read his quote. This particular friend was a 50-year old man with Down syndrome, and bilateral hip displasia. He answered Tim's facebook message:

You can run for me anytime!
With 16 years in the military and 9 years in law enforcement, I used to consider myself a strong person. After the birth of my daughter in 2013, I finally realized how accurate Gary Allen was when he sang, "When tough little boys grow up to be dads, they turn into big babies again". Now, when I see so many children in pain or suffering, I just can not fathom the immeasurable amounts of strength that is demanded of their parents. Every time I see that another buddy has earned their wings (and I hate seeing it), I just don't know how I could even attempt to face another day after the loss of my child. I don't know what I would do if my child was suffering and I was powerless to help her. 
 It's about fostering relationship. It's about motivation. It's about encouragement, and support, and celebrating diversity. It's about health - physical and emotional. Runners/athletes are matched with buddies of all ages, and all disabilities. When they train, they post to their buddy via a closed facebook page. They post pictures; they share special moments and celebrations. Sometimes they send race paraphernalia to their buddy. Buddies and buddy-parents write back - encouraging and supporting, sharing their own milestones and celebrations.
So, this one goes out to all of the parents of buddies. With all of these children suffering in their own ways, I am in admiration and awe of the strength and love that you exude on the good days and, moreover, the bad days. You all amaze and inspire me 
In the short two years since its inception, I Run 4, Inc has over 32,000 members. Over 10,500 'buddy' matches have been made across all 50 states and in 29 different countries. They desperately need more 'buddies' to sign up. Why? Because there is a waiting list of athletes, a waiting list of over 3000 who want to run for someone who can't, who want to develop a relationship with a family, who want to share their joy. Some athletes wait over six months to be matched.
This weekend, I'll run the Spartan Super in Virginia; a course that really beat me down last year. But, I apologize to my buddy, John, because this weekend, I run for his mommy, Tuesday Shannon.                       Quotes from David Paul - 8/18/2015
There were over 200 replies and comments to Mr. Paul after he posted his thoughts on the Facebook page, IRun4Michael. Comments from parents and caregivers who sometimes feel isolated and alone due to circumstances around their child's disability. I understand. Been there. And the kindness and compassion of a stranger brought me to tears. After asking his permission to print his words, I just thought I'd share.

Sierra signed up and was matched with a runner about a month ago. Just one more instance of a world of hope.


  1. What a great program - to run for those who can't run for themselves! Love the idea and the motivation!

    Thanks for sharing.

    I came over on Reflect today and I'm glad to find your post.

    Hope you have a great weekend~

    1. Hi Melanie - Yes! That's exactly what I thought! The organization actually has two other spin-offs. They have a sibling match, where they match the siblings of the disabled buddies, and they have a memorial match - for buddies who, as David said, have earned their wings. It's just heartwarming to see, isn't it? I'm glad you could stop by - I hope you have a wonderful weekend.


I know we probably haven't met in person, but I believe that the sharing of our ideas and thoughts, sometimes our hearts and souls, makes us more than strangers. I would like to say friends. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to my little space - I appreciate you.