Written August 2018 -
My husband, Steve, was nudging me in the ribs. “You should do it!” he said. We had just listened to Lyndsey Deane Ratchford, West Coast Director for Team World Vision, give a passionate announcement at church. She told us about how we could run the Seattle Rock n Roll Half Marathon/Marathon and ask our friends and family to make donations to World Vision. The gifts would give people clean water, and ultimately better lives. Lyndsey said they were looking for a team captain that could lead the Saturday trainings. I had run a couple half marathons before, and knew I could handle the running part of it--but the fundraising? I wasn’t so sure. However, I went home that night and couldn’t stop thinking about it. I decided to follow God’s nudging and email our Associate Pastor of Missions, Austin Ashenbrenner, to let him know I could be the team captain. Austin said, “Great!”
The training schedule is 18 weeks long. Team World Vision calls it a couch to half marathon training program, as it’s geared toward beginners. At first, I felt awkward about reading the script from TWV at the start of each training and trying to say something motivational about running and fundraising. But as the weeks rolled on, I was inspired especially by the people on our team who had never run more than 3 miles before. Every week, they came back a little more confident about their ability to run. I could see it on their faces, and I wanted to encourage them.
Then, there was the fundraising. Team World Vision sets a minimum goal for everyone of $1,300. All we needed to do was try. So as the weeks rolled on, we asked our family and friends, and were surprised by the positive response. People said things like, “Way to go! Thanks for including me in your fundraising!” It was just the encouragement we needed to continue asking for donations and logging those miles. Our Missions Committee also decided to encourage us, and donated $10,000 to TWV that was distributed among fundraising pages of the 60 people who had signed up that year. We were thrilled!
The first two years, I raised a little over the requested goal of $1300. I never reached $2,000, which would have earned me a sweet TWV sweatshirt in the mail. Still, I was happy about all that we had accomplished. In two years, the team from SPC had raised $108,212 from 92 unique runners. Over 2,000 people now had sustainable clean water!
Before our third season of training began, Lyndsey invited me to go to Uganda with World Vision. I observed first hand how World Vision works within a community to break the cycle of poverty. We visited a school that had clean water that was also open to the community. We met with members of a Water Board led by members of the surrounding area. We saw how WV health workers were meeting with pregnant and new mothers to help them care for themselves and their newborns. I spent an afternoon with my sponsored child Mercy, her parents, and her twin brother. They did have access to clean drinking water because World Vision was at work in their community. I knew that Mercy would be able to go to school instead of walking the average distance of a 6k for water. In contrast to all this, every day that we drove to the Buliisa office, we passed a creek where men were washing off their motorcycles, women were doing laundry, and children were filling jerry cans for drinking water. The sight of it made me cringe. I wondered how many people were getting sick from that creek. There was so much more to be done.
When I returned home, I decided that this needed to be the year that I set higher goals for myself, both with running and fundraising. The running goal was a simple decision for me—the Triple Crown. The Triple Crown is three races: The Global 6k for Water in May, the Seattle Rock n Roll half marathon in June, and the Chicago Marathon in October. This will be my first marathon, and I’m running it with my daughter, Natalie, who has also been with TWV at Sammamish Presbyterian Church since it started. For the fundraising, when I started asking for donations, I was surprised by my friends’ encouraging responses. They actually thanked me for doing this, and told me they were excited about my fundraising. I felt God nudging me toward the goal that I wanted to set from the beginning, but was too afraid to try: $10,000. So that became my new goal, and as before, I decided that I just needed to try. I’m not going to lie, it has taken some effort. I have planned new fundraising events and asked a lot of people.
As I was training for the marathon, I was invited by TWV to run another race: Hood to Coast. It’s a 12 person, 199 mile relay race from Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood to Seaside, Oregon. We each run 3 legs of the relay. I was thrilled to be invited, because my mom had run this race in 1987! There is a lottery to get in, and a long wait list. However, because of its charity status, Team World Vision fills 10 teams each year. I was in!
From the team dinner the night before to the beach party at Seaside, the weekend was a memorable one. Halfway through the race, as our Van 1 of 6 runners was waiting at the Portland waterfront for our runner from Van 2 to come in, I told my friend Rachel Veenker that I was only $260 away from my big goal of $10,000. Rachel told me that we needed to do a Facebook live video asking for the $260. I was sweaty from running, and didn’t want to go in front of a camera, but I did it anyway. Miraculously, the money came in within about 30 minutes!
When a person reaches $10,000 in fundraising in a calendar year, TWV calls them a “Legacy.” As our group of 6 was celebrating with me and the baton was handed off to our runner, Kristin McGinnigle, she ran over a bridge on the Willamette River and saw a boat passing under her called the S.S. Legacy. When she finished her leg and told us about it, we marveled at the coincidence. To me, it was a sign from God. He’s been with me every step of the way.
As I write this, I am in the midst of training for the Chicago Marathon. It’s one of the most physically and spiritually demanding things I’ve ever done. So far, the furthest I’ve run in a training is 18 miles. I still don’t know how I’m going to get to 26.2. But I know that on race day, I’ll be there with my TWV jersey on and our two sponsored kids’ names written on the front in sharpie. Through Team World Vision, God has helped me to be more bold and expectant of him to do big things. He’ll see me through.
Post Marathon Note: Natalie and I finished! We ran together in 4:37 among a crowd of 44,000 runners. Of those, 2,000 were wearing the orange TWV jerseys. There were 12 of us from Seattle who participated in the Triple Crown, including Gina Jones, also from SPC. It was a memory of a lifetime.