Before running shoes and after running shoes.
As Heart Strides continues to grow, I can’t help but feel inspired by the generosity of others, the giving without expectation. It has been an amazing couple of weeks. Thank you to all that have shared our links, donated to our efforts and simply stood with me in the launching of this project.
I was having a wonderful conversation last night with a Mom I recently met through Heart Strides, essentially a stranger, but we quickly connected over ‘getting it’ and she asked me why I was so passionate about helping other Moms. She assumed I had always been where I’m at now. I gave her a few bits and pieces to help connect the dots and she said “You should really share it with others because now it makes total sense to me“. So for those of you that know the ‘story’, carry on, for those that are first time listeners, welcome, I hope you feel inspired to share your story too.
The photo that would start me on my way to a healthier lifestyle.
I realized that change was not an option. I read a book. I joined a weight loss group. I started walking. I started running, and then this happened. Not without the encouragement of a friend and support of my family.
Me overwhelmed with emotion after completing my first event and winning, among other things, my first pair of running shoes after a friend suggested that I submit an essay to a contest explaining what running means to me.
Then this happened-
After my event, our daughter came home and made her own bib, race chip and wanted her own running gear so she could run an event too. And she did, she ran a Fathers Day 4k that following year.
Then this happened, I shaved my head to raise money for pediatric cancer research. During the middle of the event our son jumped in and shaved his head too.
Then this happened, through the connection of a friend, someone gave me a bike and I rode 100 miles for a cure for Type 1 diabetes.
This is why I believe in Heart Strides and feel so passionate about the gift of running shoes to a Mom caring for a child that is facing a critical illness or special needs. I was and still am that Mom. After our son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of three, and then after years of conflicting evaluations, was diagnosed on the spectrum, I believed that putting everything else before my own health was the best thing I could do for my family. It wasn’t always an intentional decision, it can be a slippery slope, I would quickly become complacent. I would struggle to make the time, the right choices, and over the years I would also become a stress eater as well.
Was it simply the running shoes that changed my life?
Sure, there were other things involved, but at the core of these changes were my running shoes. Just putting my shoes on gave me that extra nudge to keep moving forward. With each step I became healthier, less stressed, more confident, able to face challenges with a better perspective. I didn’t say it was or is easy, or stress free, or even challenge free, but staying grounded in my own body knowing that I could handle whatever came my way was a huge relief to me.
I take that back it wasn’t just the shoes, it was the kindness of others. So many pieces to this puzzle. An invitation to a running party from a stranger, the gift of shoes from, essentially, strangers that chose my essay, the gift of a bike, from a stranger, the generosity of family, friends and strangers that supported my fundraising efforts along the way, so many people that cheered me on. I could never have done it alone, even though I tried, it’s not easy asking for help, is it?
I wanted my body to feel as strong and committed as my mind and my heart were to an unexpected life. A life filled with advocacy, some tough lessons, a little bit of heartache, and more gifts and beauty that I could have ever imagined. I wanted to show my children a healthier way to live, that they could set goals and meet them. And now, I want to pay it forward for all of the kindness that has been shown to me.
Running shoes + kindness = life changing moments.
During the last couple of years I have honored friends, family and strangers through my training and event miles. It has been incredible, and I will never stop advocating for others, but I realized that what I wanted most for other Moms, was not to run for them but to run with them. I wanted to see them cross their own finish line. There is something about crossing that finish line that cannot be explained, it has to be experienced.
No doubt that the Moms that will receive these shoes, provided by your generous donations through Heart Strides, are already strong, capable and unstoppable. We want to gently remind them that their own health needs are important too, to help them regain good health or maintain good health. To remind them that they are amazing, that they are stronger than they thought imaginable and that making their health a priority is the best thing they could do not only for themselves, but for their families.
A gift that is so simple, yet so powerful.
A gift that many Moms would find extravagant.
I believe in the generosity of others.
I believe that giving a new pair of shoes to a Mom will remind them that their health is important.
Whether they wear them in the house, around the block or run a mile in them, I believe that they will find strength, support and a knowing that they are not alone.
Find us. Follow us. Support us. Thank you!