Kelly the Culinarian: Motivational Monday: Running for More Than Me

Monday, July 15, 2013

Motivational Monday: Running for More Than Me

Hi readers! Today, I wanted to highlight some friends who are not only doing an amazing thing (running the Chicago Marathon), but they're doing it for a reason. I'm so inspired by their causes and their fundraising efforts. College friend Rachael (remember her wedding?) told me when we finished the Peoria Marathon Relay that she had registered for Chicago to raise money for homeless animals. Running friend Dan (of Western Cook County Runners fame) is a cancer survivor who runs to help kids going through what he did. These are their stories - please support their journeys!

Let's start with Rachael, since today is her birthday. Happy birthday, Rachael! Want to know what to get her? A donation to her marathon charity, of course.

Running a marathon has always been on my bucket list, so when registration for the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon opened in February, I knew now was the time. I’ve run four half-marathons and a number of shorter races (including a few with our favorite Culinarian), but I couldn’t pass up the chance to run my first 26.2 in my city, known for a flat, fast course and great crowd support.
But I wanted to run for more than just myself. Completing a marathon is a huge accomplishment, and I wanted to use the time and miles towards helping a cause I believe in. Enter PAWS Chicago, one of the United States’ largest no-kill animal shelters and the charity that I’ll be running for this year as part of Team PAWS.
I’m a lifetime animal lover, surrounded by pets since I was little. My husband, Brian, and I are the proud fur-parents of Milo, a scary-smart black cat and Wally, a sweet and spoiled French bulldog/Boston terrier mix. We began volunteering at PAWS late last year and were hooked immediately. Spending a few hours cleaning pet rooms, walking dogs, and helping adopters find their new best friends was incredibly rewarding, and is there anything better than cuddling a cat or playing with a puppy? I don’t think so.

PAWS has a great mission and operating model designing around building no-kill communities that respect the lives of every cat and dog. Here are a few quick facts about PAWS:
  • Committed to controlling overpopulation, PAWS performed more than 18,000 spay/neuter surgeries in 2012. The surgeries are free or very affordable to help low-income families.
  • Last year, PAWS helped more than 5,000 animals find homes. Since PAWS Chicago opened in 1998, the number of homeless pets killed in Chicago has dropped by more than 60%.
  • In the last 15 years, PAWS Chicago has connected more than 25,000 homeless cats and dogs with their new families.
Information courtesy of PAWS Chicago
I’m so excited to run for a cause that’s helped so many and that I support so strongly. When I slip on my PAWS tank top on marathon day, I’ll hopefully run a little stronger knowing my efforts are helping PAWS save animals in need.
If you’re interested in supporting my marathon and PAWS Chicago, please click here. Thanks for your help, and go Team PAWS!
And now, for Dan!
Why am I running the Chicago Marathon? I want to be the difference. When one experiences cancer it will change them for the rest of their life. How do I know? I am a survivor of childhood cancer.  I will be running the 2013 Chicago Bank of America Marathon to help send a child to One Step at a Time Camp, a camp that helps children to feel a sense of normalcy. This is the same camp that I attended when I was sick.  As you might imagine, the costs of fighting cancer can put an immense financial burden on family, not to mention the emotional burden that accompanies it. 
The cost for a child to attend a week at camp is at least $1000. I know firsthand what this means to the families and children who are affected by childhood cancer. This camp was the only thing I looked forward to when I was ill, except for getting better. Camp made me forget my worries for 2 weeks a year while I was fighting cancer. It helped to keep my spirit strong, and helped me to not give up hope. Remember, cancer can be financially devastating, and One Step at a time Camp will not turn away a child from camp due to a family’s inability to pay. This camp is an amazing place, where for two weeks these kids enjoy living, rebuilding their self-esteem, making lifelong friends, and most of all just being a kid. 

Camp is a life changing experience, I personally, am forever grateful for the kind people who were there for my parents, and I when we needed it the most. Now it is time for me to give back and be the difference in someone’s life. If you want to help me please feel free to donate and help to spread the word.