Right around now, 5 years ago, I started running. Well, I actually started walking – mostly because I couldn’t bring my newly born twin babies into a gym and I needed some exercise. I had gained 100 pounds before delivering my twins – 7 WEEKS early. Mama needed to get moving. In what seems like the blink of an eye, I have just signed up for my 6th year as a fundraising runner for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. But that’s jumping ahead. Here’s what led me there…
Struggling with depression, guilt, and a host of other feelings that I would later find out are inherent to spending your first weeks post-birth in a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), I was also seeking the ability to have control over something in my life again. I am grateful everyday that the something I realized I could control was my ability to move forward (physically, and later – figuratively).
In April, when my twins were 5 months old, I signed up for my first 5k – the 2013 Wine & Dine at Walt Disney World. The race wasn’t until November, but I quickly ordered my first Sparkle Athletic skirt because it seemed that everyone online had one for a Disney race (in case you were wondering – it was gunmetal). I was so proud when I finished that race, and I just wanted to do it again.
The next scheduled runDisney event was Princess weekend, but much to my dismay, all of the entries were sold out when I looked into it. Then I saw the link – Charity Entries. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals was the presenting sponsor of the race weekend – for the first time. I snagged an entry into the 2014 Princess Half Marathon, pledging to raise money in exchange for the entry fee. I considered it fate. This was the organization, after all, that supports the lifesaving research, equipment, and staff at my local hospital, John’s Hopkins All Children’s (JHACH). In addition to the wonderful doctors who treated the boys throughout their NICU stay, once home I had experienced firsthand the service of the JHACH nurse line too many times to count in the early days of worrying about everything. This was close to my heart, and I felt like it was meant to be that my legs would be running for my boys, and other kids just like them.
Gearing up to run my first half marathon gave me renewed focus on my life, and also helped me combat my continued anxiety and lurking depression. Running helped me re-focus my energy on things I was grateful for, like my health, and also gave me alone time to process my other feelings. I ran that race with both my boys pictures on my shirt, as a constant reminder of how much meaning was behind each mile.
As my boys have grown, so has my love of running, even more so that I am able to continue to go back to Princess Weekend each year as a fundraising runner for Children’s Miracle Network. JCACH and their staff continues to play a role in our family’s life, as Logan receives audiology services for hearing loss caused by a damaged nerve.
In 2015 I upgraded my fundraising and mileage goals, running the Glass Slipper Challenge, which consists of a 10k on Saturday, and a half marathon on Sunday. I have committed to that challenge every year since – running a total of 90.3 miles for CMN Hospitals since the birth of my boys. With the help of family and friends, I have raised over $6,800 for what I believe is an organization that truly had a hand in making miracles happen. The boys are even running their own races now – completing Mickey Miles for the past two years’ events.
I have just committed to my SIXTH Disney Princess Weekend on behalf of CMN Hospitals. Please consider donating to my fundraising efforts for this worthy cause. It is very likely you or someone you know how experiences firsthand the amazing care (and hopefully, miracles) that go on inside these hospital’s walls. Continue to give my legs their purpose – moving forward through meaningful miles. Click here to donate – it’s even tax deductible!
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ mission is to generate funds and awareness programs in partnership with and for the benefit of member hospitals/foundations and the children they are privileged to serve. Donations to Children’s Miracle Network create miracles by funding medical care, research and education that saves and improves the lives of millions of children each year.
Check out Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals on Charity Navigator.