Living Giving: The Story of the 'Mile 7 Shirt'
When I spotted Lori the next day, she stashed the shirt in the bushes for safe keeping, but it must have gotten scooped up by the clean-up crew. Two days after my return to Minnesota, I received an e-mail from Lori, expressing her grief over its loss, and a week later, a brand-new 2008 Boston Marathon shirt arrived in my mailbox! I had no idea how Lori pulled that off, but I was profoundly impressed.
Fast-forward to the summer of 2011. Our high-school cross-country team in Albert Lea, Minn., where I volunteer as a coach, came up with a great shirt for the summer running camp, so I sent one to fellow runner Lori, as a special thank-you to her for having gone the extra mile to replace my special shirt almost two years earlier.
Lori donated the shirt to the Youth Villages running program, where she is now national development director. The program was having a banquet where the children could win prizes and draw from a special table of items. One of the young runners chose the Albert Lea Tigers cross-country shirt and, Lori told me, was just beaming. And the other children were coveting that particular shirt!
What if … ?
If one running shirt brought that much joy to one child, what would happen if I could come up with a campaign to obtain running shirts on a much bigger scale for Youth Villages?
I found running websites with race information and began e-mailing race directors around the world. Several days later, packages began arriving. And more packages. And boxes. And boxes. And boxes. From across the planet. Beautiful, high-quality marathon, ultra-marathon, trail run, half-marathon, 10K, 5K, Ironman Triathlon shirts began arriving from as far away as Ghana, Brazil, Australia, The Netherlands, Ireland, Egypt … (from 39 countries so far) and all across the U.S. (from 39 states and counting). The Boston Marathon even sent 20 stunning marathon shirts! And the icing on the top (of the world) and the bottom (of the world)? Shirts from the North Pole Marathon and the Antarctica Ice Marathon. We even got finisher medals — close to 500 from various races!