Running a marathon wasn't new to me when I heard about Chances for Children - Arizona. I had previously completed four marathons and a few half marathons. Even so, I only did it for me and the personal benefits it provided. Running was life-changing for me. Running gave me strength, confidence and happiness. But last year, my reasons for running changed.
Finding Team Chances
The running community is small and one day on a morning run I heard Susan Loken's story. I was completely inspired. I had to meet Susan! Shortly after, a gal walked into the AP office at my work and noticed my shirt, which proudly displayed the words, "I Love to Run." She asked me about it, and then spent the next fifteen minutes telling me about Team Chances and all the wonderful things they did. She also mentioned Susan's name. I was HOOKED! Chances for Children combined my two passions in life - running, and helping children. I have always known what running can do in a person's life, and now I wanted to spread the word.
Bringing My Community Together
I knew I had to create a team and raise funds for Chances. I challenged myself to recruit folks at Adolfson & Peterson to both run and raise funds. I even got to meet Susan! She was inspiring, and lighted an even bigger fire in me. I was on a mission. With help and a lot of perserverence, Team AP and I recruited 26 members - both employees and non-employees!
Not only did we have a great team, we had the support of an amazing company, Adolfson & Peterson Construction. They sponsored our registration fee and matched 8 percent of our total fundraising goal. They also provided for us a "hub" where we met, discussed ideas and held events.
On Fridays, members of Team AP ran with the kids at Aguilar Elementary and Evans Elementary. These kids held us accountable because if we were not there, no one was. Running with the children was extremely rewarding - it's difficult to explain with words. Seeing their faces, their smiles and their excitement kept our team going!
I Was Changed
Running with Team Chances was very challenging, yet very rewarding. I got to see how running can change a person's life, just how it had changed mine. When I saw that and I saw how happy the children were when our team showed up, it just made me want to do more. It made all of us want to do more. After 20 weeks of training, many injuries, lots of hard work, Team AP raised $36,000 and almost every member of our team completed either the half or full marathon.
Personally, Chances for Children - Arizona changed the way I run. I do it with purpose. Now, I run for myself and for others. I encourage all those around me to give it a shot and to have an open mind. Go team!