Some kids need ‘Heroes’ (more often, they are the heroes)

When I was little, my hero was Super Woman (and She-Ra). 🙂 As I grew up, fictional super heroes became less important; I found nonfiction heroes to focus on. Then, one day, I found myself being called a hero for a 5-year-old girl named Emma Ivie.

Emma was a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital who sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2010. In 2011, I ran my second half-marathon – the St. Jude Half-Marathon – in her memory with Team River Workout, raising money to help other children fighting cancer. It was an honor to run for this sweet angel with a group of fellow River Workout boot-campers, one of whom was related to Emma.

This year, I’m excited to be running as a St. Jude Hero once again and training for the half-marathon on Dec. 5. I’ll be running alongside – I mean, running in the same race as my much faster colleague – Ali Glemser, as part of Team Vaco (comprised of employees of our client, Vaco Memphis). Together, Ali and I have a goal to raise $1,000 as part of our commitment as St. Jude Heroes (each of us is responsible for half of that goal). So, don’t be surprised if we come knocking on your door for a contribution. (Or you can proactively donate to my goal here and/or Ali’s goal here.)

Why do we run, though? Races of all distances are a favorite fundraiser for nonprofits, but the St. Jude Half-Marathon and Full Marathon are storied events in Memphis for the fire you feel throughout the race and the support of onlookers. For me, it’s a combination of doing something good and achieving a personal challenge. This year, I am lacing up my running shoes for my fifth half-marathon after a bit of a stagnant year of fitness ups and downs. While I’ve started training a little late, I know I can get there.

Ali, though, has been active her whole life. A soccer standout at the University of South Carolina, she ran daily – but not for long distances. The marathon distance – and the half-marathon – were new challenges for her to be competitive again and test her physical limits (as well as to de-stress). But, running for St. Jude sweetens it even further, and this will be her second half to participate in.

“St. Jude is a cool opportunity because I’m able to give back while still working toward an individual goal,” Ali said. “I know that it costs almost $2 million a day to run St. Jude, so committing to be a Hero is my way of pitching in to the organization’s awesome mission. Just like a lot of people can’t say they’ve run a half-marathon, not everyone can say they’ve been a Hero. I think that’s what drives me to do both.”

So, readers, Ali and I are running for the thousands of children served by St. Jude, the research that affects many beyond its walls and the individuals, like Emma Ivie, who need champions. It’s a small thing, really, to run in a half-marathon when compared with the fight the true heroes – the children of St. Jude – face every day.