When I ran the Boston Marathon last year, I assumed it was going to be the hottest race of my life (temperatures were over ninety degrees on the pavement). I was wrong. This January I had the opportunity to participate in the first ever Gede 5k in Kenya. I’m not sure what the temperature was but I know while we were there even the locals were talking about the heat. This 5k was not only the hottest race I’ve ever run but also the most rewarding.
I’ve been running seriously for ten years now but it wasn’t until last year that I began to run with a purpose. I started Boogieforever.com to start telling the story about my sister Angela and raising money for a cause I believe in.
Boogie is my sister’s nickname and today is her birthday. She would be 38 years old but we don’t get to celebrate with her this year. She’s having a much bigger party than we could ever throw her because she danced into eternity on December 31st, 2010. While she was with us, Angie never walked or talked because she had Cerebral Palsy. Despite her physical limitations, her life affected more people than most of us could ever hope to. One of the last gifts I gave Angie was a donation to Kupenda for the Children, an organization that works with children with disabilities on the Kenyan Coast. Many of the children they work with have Cerebral Palsy just like Angie. I decided to raise money for Kupenda through running the Boston Marathon last year.
The twelve days we spent in Kenya opened our eyes to see how important Kupenda’s work is. I heard countless stories from parents who told us that they were advised to kill their children because they had a disability. We also met children who had been abused and neglected and wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for Kupenda’s intervention. Kupenda is literally saving the lives of children who remind me so much of my sister. Now that I have seen the work they are doing and have met many of the children whose lives they are transforming, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to celebrate Angie’s life than to raise money for Kupenda.
Next Saturday I will be running the Hartford Marathon. As usual, I will be running in memory of Angie but also in support of the wonderful children I know and love on the Kenyan Coast. My goal is to raise $1,500 for them before the start of the race. This is enough to cover a full year of assistance for thirty children with Cerebral Palsy at the Gede Special school! If you are able and would like to join me in meeting this goal, donations of any size are greatly appreciated.
This year, my focus while running the marathon is “running with joy,” inspired by elite runner, Ryan Hall. One of the things that struck me most while when I met the children in Kenya was the way they loved to smile and laugh (and even play jokes on me!). Many of the girls with Cerebral Palsy had the exact same laugh as my sister Angela. It is the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. Whatever pain I feel while running doesn’t come close to comparing to the difficulty of living with a handicap, especially in Kenya. I want to remember that it is possible to experience joy even in the midst of difficulty and regardless of how fast I run. If you are interested in following my progress during the marathon, you can follow online or via text.Thank you for your friendship and support.
Happy birthday, Boogie!
Running with joy,