That's right, I have a job! Well, kind of. It's volunteer, meaning it is unpaid, but those are the kinds of positions at which I excel. Free work, baby!
As of mid-January, I became Chapter Coordinator for the international non-profit Medals4Mettle (M4M). It's a phenomenal organization, one I am excited and truly honored to be a part of. It combines two of my favorite things in the world - running and volunteering.
Saying yes was a no-brainer.
Wanna know more about my new gig? I'm so glad you asked! M4M facilitates the giving of half-, full, and triathlon medals to children and adults going through chronic or debilitating illness. It's a way to recognize not only the journey these folks are experiencing, but also gives them a little boost, a touch of inspiration, and a whole lot of support. After all, running a marathon is nothing compared to the daily battle of illness. For athletes, it's kind of our way of saying, "We've run our race, and we're with you as you run yours."
Not surprisingly, this organization started as a result of a very personal, very moving experience. Steven Isenberg, MD, a head and neck surgeon from Indianapolis, Indiana, paid a visit to a friend who was hospitalized. With tubes running in and out of his buddy, Dr. Isenberg felt helpless as he stared at his friend. Finally, he pulled out his medal from the Chicago marathon, which he had run just the day before, and gave it to him.
In the days prior to his death, that friend told Dr. I how much the medal meant to him. In 2005, Dr. Isenberg put together M4M as a way of giving back to those who are showing tremendous mettle in their own everyday battles.
This, of course, evoked memories of my family's own very personal battle with illness. I wasn't aware of this organization when my dad was sick, and while it couldn't have changed the course of history, I wonder if it would have offered even the tiniest bit of comfort during some of our darkest days. My dad would have scoffed at the medal (Greg put the 'G' in 'Gruff') but I know secretly he would have loved it. For me personally, I wish he was still here so I could at least show him my own medals. I didn't start running until after his death. But - perhaps this is my way of giving his passing meaning, and through the gifting of my own medals, it will bring a sense of peace and hope to other families as well.
Okay, now I'm crying. Sheesh. After two and a half years, you'd think it gets easier. It doesn't. It just gets farther away.
I will be handling the Las Vegas Chapter of M4M, including the collection of medals, raising funds, and managing the medals presentation. Once a medal is donated, the original ribbon is removed and the M4M medal is put on. The fundraising is to defray the cost of the ribbons (all $3.85 each) as well as any printing costs. I'll be working with the Children's Care Coordinator at Sunrise Children's Hospital and once enough medals are collected, we will present them to the kids. I'm hoping to round up some local celebs for the medal presentation. (Insider info: we have one confirmed for now. Pretty exciting stuff!)
If you are moved by this as much as I was, there's a way for you to help as well. Our call to action is three-fold:
1.) Donate your medals
If you are a runner or triathlete, perhaps you'd considering donating some or all of your medals. If this hits you the wrong way, I totally understand - it took me a little while to feel okay with giving away my hard-earned medals. I had to ask myself (during a long run, naturally) why these medals meant so much to me. After the full marathon, one of my most repeated comments (aside from "Holy sh*t I just ran a marathon!") was "I wish I could share this feeling with you." It was then I realized that I DO have a way to share this feeling. My medals are simply external representations of something I've already gotten everything out of. If I can pass that feeling along through a donated medal, well, then my marathon lives on. And I LOVE that.
Also, donors can fill out a "Legacy Card" to go with their medal donation; it details what race the medal came from, what the runner was thinking while racing, and what they told themselves in order to get through the race. Pretty powerful stuff.
2. Make a donation
Once a medal has been donated, the original ribbon is removed and the M4M ribbon is added. Each ribbon costs $3.85. It's not a lot and if you'd like to contribute, please check out our Crowd Rise site. If you are not a runner but still want to help, this is a great way to do it!
And finally, if you run (or don't run, no worries) but still want to help out, lord knows I'm going to need the help. Perhaps your company would like to be a corporate sponsor? Would you like to take photos during the medals presentation? Are you involved in or know of other running clubs that would like to participate in this awesome organization? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk about ways to get you involved.
Okay, I lied. The call to action is three-and-a-half-fold. I forgot about the social networking component. Last thing you can do:
3.5) LIKE us on Facebook!! Medals 4 Mettle Las Vegas
and follow us on Twitter @Medals4MettleLV