In the last week, I’ve heard about several athletes doing extraordinary things. So, in the spirit of the day, I thought that I’d share their stories as a way to give thanks to those who inspire and are making a difference one mile at a time.
There are, of course, many stories of people who use running and sport as a way to raise awareness about a cause, make a statement, or give back to their community. Today’s blog post is dedicated to all of the told and untold stories of those who are going the extra mile.
Running for a Cause: Laura Parson
On June 1, 2015, Laura will head out to break the female record for running across the United States in less than 68 days—about 3,030 miles, which translates to roughly 46 miles a day. She’ll begin her journey in San Francisco and finish in New York City.
While running over 3,000 miles is certainly in itself a feat, what makes her story interesting is why she’s running—to increase awareness of sexual violence and raise money for RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. Learn more about Laura’s journey and mission here. I first read about her story from Zelle, an online project of Runner’s World magazine.
Blind Courage: A 2,100-Mile Journey of Faith
In March 1990, Bill Irwin and his guide dog, Orient, set off to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, covering over 2,100 miles. What makes his story remarkable is that Bill was a middle-aged recovering alcoholic with a severe eye disease that left him blind. He completed the journey without human assistance or a GPS. He is the only blind person to thru-hike the entire Appalachian Trail in one season.
His story of perseverance and courage is currently being made into a movie (funding ongoing). To learn more about Bill and his incredible story visit the movie’s campaign funding site. Sadly, Bill passed away this past March—learn more about him from this Washington Post article.
Catching Kayla: The Story of Kayla Montgomery
Catching Kayla tells the inspirational story of Kayla Montgomery who, despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a few years ago, has become one of the best young distance runners in the country. Spend a few minutes and watch the remarkable story of Kayla who does not let adversity stand in her way.
As a dog lover, I couldn’t help but throw this one in…animal lovers everywhere will rejoice to learn the heartwarming story of Arthur.
Ultra Racer Dog Finds Forever Home
Oh the goodness of athletes. While competing in the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador, a Swedish team gained a four-legged friend mid-race. The stray dog, who they named, Arthur, stayed with the team throughout the race in the Amazon Jungle, treading through mud and navigating other challenges. After six arduous days, all five members of the team crossed the finish line—together.
Animal lovers worldwide learned about Arthur and donations poured in—enough money to get him to Sweden where he was adopted by the team captain. And it gets better—the team recently established the Arthur Foundation to help end the abuse and neglect of stray dogs. Need more Arthur love? Get the full story here.
Do you know someone who uses running or sport for something amazing? Let me know so I can share their story in future blog posts.
Today I encourage you to pause and give thanks to those who challenge us to be brave, fight adversity, and overcome obstacles. The athletes profiled here certainly can teach us a thing or two. Now go out there and spread some Thanksgiving cheer!