From the Heart: Whoirun4

Nick Beecher can't wait to hear from his buddy.

Nick Beecher can't wait to hear from his buddy, Jane Thompson.

There are more times than I’d like to admit that I’ve put off heading out for a run. I’m not one of those people that can’t wait to lace up and hit the pavement and many, MANY times I’ve had to just suck it up and go out, with zero enthusiasm. I think I might have found a way to solve that. Technically, Matt Rasmussen shared it with me, so I can’t take the credit, but I’m equally excited with the discovery.

Whoirun4.com matches runners with a new friend who has special needs, promoting running, building friendships and increasing awareness for kids that deserve some extra love and attention. The runner has a new inspiration to run and the buddy has something to look forward to, both of them benefiting from the online friendship.

The kids look forward to hearing from their buddies and, while they can’t technically participate in a run, this brings them into the running community and all of the amazing support that includes. A whole lot more rewarding than a PR, this is about encouraging others, building bonds and raising awareness for these very special kids. I really think the best way to feel happy is to do something for others and this program is the perfect opportunity.

Participants are encouraged to post pictures to Facebook, tagging their buddies and noting their run. It makes me smile just looking at the the pictures of the kids, seeing the genuine happiness  and warmth that this program brings. Anyone having a rough day needs to check out their Facebook page. It’s not only inspiring for runners, but for everyone.  Simple acts of kindness can make a huge impact and their website proves it.

The Beecher Brothers

Nick and Raymond Beecher

The commitment is minimal, runners agree to dedicate 3 runs per week to their buddy and tag their buddy on the group Facebook page with the run or send a personal note about it.  The new friends exchange notes, sort of like virtual pen pals. The kids have something to get excited about, hearing from their buddy and have someone they can share their ups and downs with.  Like all of us, kids with special needs have good and bad days and this is an opportunity to share that with their buddy. They can ask for positive thoughts, prayers, share their favorite part of the day, but most importantly, connect with a new friend.

Some runners have shirts noting who they are running for, others give their medal bling to their buddy, Runner and Buddy inspiring each other. I love the concept of this, giving the runner new motivation and the buddy something to get excited about. While most participants are runners, you can share any sort of workout with your buddy- Yoga, CrossFit, or a walk, they all count. There is a waiting list, it’s that popular- popular enough to include 24 countries and 10,000 participants. I received a notice that my wait would probably be close to 12 weeks for a match, but it doesn’t mean you can’t participate in the meantime. Many runners post workouts, medals and awards on their website noting their future buddy was the inspiration.

Angela Basaraba-Dalles sends a picture from her run to her buddy, Sebastion.

Angela Basaraba-Dalles sends a picture from her run to her buddy, Sebastion.

Even if you don’t plan to sign up, go check out the website, it’s worth it. Then, check out their Facebook page. There are tons of runners and kids taking a very challenging situation and making something positive with it. I challenge you to NOT be inspired. I loved this note from Angela Basaraba-Dalles to her buddy, ‘Thanks Sebastion- you keep me on track and motivated. I think of your smile every step of the way.’ Basaraba-Dalles goes on to explain the birds outside and the beauty of Mother Nature, bringing her buddy along for the run in her own way. I could spend hours reading the notes and looking at the pictures, it’s truly heartwarming.

While I’m so grateful I can run, I’m terrible at expressing that gratitude, or, sadly, even remembering it at times.  Too often taking it for granted. Whoirun4.com reminds me I need to have a grateful heart and appreciate each and every run. More importantly, it’s a great opportunity to make a new friend and inspire someone who doesn’t have the choice to run. Inspiring each other, encouraging each other and getting to know each other better each and every run.  It’s not a big commitment and small things can have a huge impact.

 

‘Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.’  ~Buddha

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