I found 26 cents on my 7.5 mile training run today. (I always stop to pick up money while I'm running - and most of the time it's a penny!) I saw the quarter first and then about a 100 yards further, I saw the penny. As I ran a bit further, with the quarter and penny between my thumb and middle finger, I thought about the 26 miles I'll be running on October 10th for children and their families...
I'm training for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon - to be run 10/10/10. I'll be running with Team Inheritance of Hope. Running to raise funds to support young families with a parent experiencing a life-threatening illness. Much of the funds are used to send families on all-expense-paid Legacy Retreats.
Recently, Southwest Airlines blogged about the June Legacy Retreat. Southwest donated plane tickets to send the Smith family from Washington State to the Legacy Retreat held in Lake George, New York. I was privileged to be a part of that Legacy Retreat as a volunteer. To read the blog from the June retreat, click here. Thanks Southwest for your generosity and willingness to make a difference in a family's life!
I want to try to capture a small glimpse of the impact a retreat has on those attending. Folks arrive a little uncertain as to what the weekend will bring but they are soon put at ease. I think retreat is a good way to describe the weekend. As a noun, retreat means a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax. As a verb, to move back or withdraw. The weekend is a place to move back from the hectic pace of life, take a breath and relax - all while having tons of fun and meeting new friends.
Children meet other children who are going through similar challenges. They are provided tools and much support to deal with the stresses they are experiencing because of their parent's illness. And, one of the greatest parts, is that they laugh A LOT! Games are played ... you can almost see burdens being lifted. Much time is spent with families playing together - attending a theme park, water park, or white water rafting. People leave with a new community of support and precious memories. Volunteers, alike, walk away with a fresh perspective and appreciation for family and life.
I can't encourage you enough to get involved. Volunteer, join Team Inheritance of Hope in an endurance event, or donate to a runner. The impact of your involvement is real and lasting for individuals that need your support at this time in their lives. And to be quite frank, we need more funds to serve the increasing number of families contacting us for support!
I know I'll need to write more about Legacy Retreats in the future because it's hard to put into words what the experience is all about. But, I'll keep trying... and may get a bit closer to being successful.
When I leave my house at 5:30am to run 18 miles tomorrow, I'll be thinking about the children and their families that will be beneficiaries of the next Legacy Retreats - to be held in New York City and in Walt Disney World. It will motivate me to know that I'm not just running for myself, but for a greater purpose. Real people are receiving real benefits. I'm all about that!
Best regards! (And if you'd like to donate to my effort as I run the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, please visit my webpage. THANKS!)