Personally, I enjoy dedicating my runs to others and “running for those who can’t”. Last year, after some searching, I found an organization called I Run 4 (and the private facebook group: I Run for Michael ) which pairs runners with “buddies” who have physical or mental disabilities. Runners dedicate training miles to their buddies and keep in touch through social media posts, phone calls, and in-person visits. This group had my name written all over it. I signed up and waited for 6 months to be paired. When the day finally came, it was love at first sight, we are literally a perfect match. I knew there was a story behind my buddy though — and here it is:
Mataya was born on a freezing cold January night in Bemidji, MN, and immediately struggled to breathe, which perplexed her doctors and terrified her parents. With the cause unknown, Mataya was rushed to Sanford Partners Neonatal Intensive Care unit at Sanford Childrens Hospital in Fargo by Sanford AirMed. There her family received the devastating news; their newborn had cancer. A large tumor was wrapped around her spine and aorta making breathing difficult and threatening her life. Mataya spent the next 5 months at Sanford Children’s moving from NICU to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit to the Pediatric floor. In that time, she underwent 5 surgeries, 7 rounds of chemo, 51 blood transfusions and more than 1,000 scans and tests.
Together, we are now on a mission to teach the world about neuroblastoma cancer – creating awareness and fighting for a cure because NO ONE, especially a newborn, should ever have to go through all she’s been though. For now, I’m her voice, as she gets older, she will start being her own voice.
Please share this link: The group is always looking for more “buddies” who have physical or mental disabilities to pair with runners: https://youtu.be/mUDXsOTYn6U