On October 13th, I will be representing Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) at the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon! As a member of Team RMHC, I will be training, fundraising and ultimately running 26.2 miles to help keep families together. Let me tell you a little bit about my journey that brought me to this decision to not only run my first marathon, but also to do it for an amazing cause.
Growing up, I did not have a “typical” childhood. I still have fond memories and happy times to recall thanks to my loving family, however there was a lot of pain and hard times due to my health. When I was three years old, I fell down the stairs and a concrete slab broke my fall. I hit my face and suffered some bruising, which was to be expected. What wasn’t expected was that the bruises and discoloration did not go away...for months. Worried and confused, my mother and father took me to every specialist they could find in the area, nobody had any answers. Finally we were referred to a surgeon in Pennsylvania. Fast forward through an incorrect diagnosis of Scleroderma and 4 extensive and painful surgeries, and I was worse off than I had started. Feeling desperate, we went to Boston Massachusetts for a second opinion. This was an eye opening consultation. The board of doctors I visited there had many questions and conflicts with the previous diagnosis and surgeries that had been performed in Pennsylvania. In order to repair the damage done, I received a new diagnosis (Parry-Rombergs Syndrome). With that came countless trips back and forth to Boston that included 10 more surgeries. Some of these surgeries included lengthy hospital stays including the ICU and extensive post operative care.
This was an extremely difficult time for my entire family. The financial strain that was put on my parents, along with the emotional strain of having a sick child, not to mention two other children that may not have been getting the attention they needed back home was overwhelming. While traveling so often, places like the Ronald McDonald House were lifesavers in so many ways. A hotel stay in the city of Boston was extremely expensive, not to mention a commute back and forth from the hospital made for more time that I was alone and the possibility for my mother missing important medical information was likely.
The Ronald McDonald House Charities offers so many amazing things to families with sick children. There are Ronald McDonald rooms (within many hospitals) and houses (near the corresponding hospitals) in 64 countries throughout the world that are providing housing and other helpful amenities to families that are going through difficult times with their children’s medical needs. The homes are often within walking distance to the hospital, so they are easily accessible, especially in large cities (like Boston). The RMHC global policy is that no family is turned away. If they cannot make a donation during their stay, the fee is immediately waived and they are welcomed. The generosity of its donors makes this miracle possible. Did you know $25 can provide dinner for a family and $80 can give a family a room for a night? It seems impossible to think about how many families are provided for through this organization.
By the time I reached high school, my surgeries were behind me, however the pain and suffering I had endured along with the scars from the many surgeries remained. School was not a happy time filled with fond memories with friends. Quite the opposite for me. I spent a lot of time alone and acquired some pretty unhealthy habits right from the start. While health and fitness was not high on my priority list, my career path certainly was. I knew from a very early age that becoming a special education teacher was the only path for me. I wanted to work with kids that felt different and help them to feel loved and cared for in school. I wanted to help make school a positive experience for kids. I am proud to say that I am able to do what I love and teach amazing children everyday and I believe that the unfortunate event of my childhood lead me to this path I am on today.
While in college, I met my future husband (during a time when I had decided that I would live a life alone with only my dogs by my side). He chose to look past all the things I hated about myself and see the person I was inside. We dated, got married and now have two beautiful children. He is my best friend and partner in life.
In the mix of all our amazing life changes, we found ourselves putting our health at the bottom of our priority list. We both gained a significant amount of weight after we got married, and when our daughter was born, we looked at each other one night and said, enough!
From then on we began our journey. Over the course of the last 7 years, we have together lost 220 pounds! We changed our lifestyle completely, and while our love for running and passion for living a healthy lifestyle has been a work in progress, it has evolved over the course of many years and is now at the top of our priority list. With the help of my sidekick, and best friend, my husband and I have been on this journey together slowly working our way up to this point. We have run many 5ks and several half marathons together. Last year, my husband took a leap and decided to run the NYC marathon. I was NOT interested, and far too afraid to run that distance, considering how I felt after my half marathons, but something happened as I watched him work his way toward 26.2 miles. I had never been more inspired and proud of him, and I knew I just had to run a marathon too.
We will be running the Chicago Marathon together. I am so excited to be able to achieve this goal with him by my side and run for such an amazing cause. Your donation, of any amount, will not only help me achieve my goal, but will help children stay close to their families when they need it most!