Living Giving: The Story of the 'Mile 7 Shirt'
Youth Villages put up a large world map in one of its facilities, and as the kids receive shirts, they put a pin in the map to indicate where the shirts came from (an invaluable geography teaching moment).
Apparently, the finisher medals are so treasured that the kids who’ve already received them won’t take them off.
Lori shares that the kids are incredibly encouraged and inspired with these shirts and are “treating them like gold!”
“It is amazing how so many people are reaching across continents to help these children have a better life,” she told me.
This project has been a natural outgrowth from, and wonderful complement to, my running marathons for worthy nonprofit organizations. I was able to personally travel to and tour Youth Villages in December 2011, and actually run a half marathon with one of the children in its care. In my 37-plus years of running, I’ve never been more inspired than when I crossed the finish line side by side with the 17-year-old from Youth Villages who was running his first major half marathon. I was very privileged to use the occasion to raise funds for Youth Villages, and generous donors from across the country came alongside the effort and provided more than $11,000 that I was able to hand-deliver to Lori.
In the past 12 years, donors have come alongside other fundraising efforts through other marathons that I have run to raise more than $95,000 for organizations including Operation Smile and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
I like to think of the marathons I run as metaphors for the “marathons” so many hurting children and families are “running” toward wholeness — be it suffering from childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases, being ostracized by virtue of being born with a cleft palate or cleft lip, having been abused and/or abandoned as a child, and any number of other life challenges that leave people feeling hopeless and unloved.