As I'm crying my way home, her words are dancing in my mind. She can't imagine how hard it is to train for a marathon. Honestly, I can't imagine how hard it is to be a kid now. I mean, it was hard to be a kid when I was growing up. I was bullied, made fun of because of my skinny legs, my pipe cleaner arms and my chicken neck (that was a personal favorite), among other things kids are so cruel about. But there weren't things like blogs and Facebook and Twitter where my bullies could broadcast my shortcomings to the outside world (they just chose to write lovely things about me in the bathroom, on my locker, etc). I can't imagine what kids go through now, where it seems everyone knows your business. Sure, some kids put more of their business out there than they probably should, but that doesn't mean they deserve to be bullied. My point in bringing this up, is that I handled my being bullied through running. Those skinny legs and pipe cleaner arms got strong and have carried me through so much. If it weren't for joining track in the 8th grade and continuing with it each year, I don't know how I would have gotten through the torture that was high school. Running gave me confidence. It helped me see that I'm more than what the bullies pick on and my real, actual friends, don't care that I have skinny legs or pipe cleaner arms. My track coaches took a chance on me and were certainly glad they did because those skinny legs helped me eventually win races :) Ok, maybe the coaches had something to do with it too.
But not every kid has a track team to help them. Not every kid has the opportunity to meet people that believe in them and value them for what they already are. That's what Team for Kids provides: a chance for kids to build confidence, to build friendships, to live happy, healthy lives. I want to help these kids so much. They deserve to be happy and live their lives feeling good about themselves. I can still hear the gratitude in Keara's voice when she thanked me. It brings me to tears every time I think about her. How she is cheering me on when she is the one that needs the cheerleader behind her all day, telling her how much she is loved and how much we believe in her. But at least she has the programs provided by Team for Kids to be a part of.
That's where you can come in and help. Team for Kids, which through the New York Road Runners, will provide free running programs to kids and teens throughout our country and South Africa. They have already helped thousands of kids, and ultimately their families, get the information they need to be healthy. These programs help kids feel good about themselves, feel like they matter and feel like they are able to achieve greatness, whether it's in school, in sports, or just in life. Without these running programs, there's no telling where these kids would end up.
Please help me help these kids. There are 5 weeks left until my fundraising deadline. I've already raised over $1600, helping 33 kids participate in these free programs. But there is so much more to do, so many more kids to help. For me, I still have over $900 to raise before October 5th. I know times are tough right now. I know the economy sucks and every cent is hard to part with. I get that. Which is why NO AMOUNT IS TOO SMALL. It will mean so much to the kids and families who receive your support. And your contribution is pretty much instantaneous: all of your contribution goes towards providing these programs. It's not so much about helping me, but helping them!
You can read more about my goals, what Team for Kids and the NYRR Youth Programs do and to donate to our cause by going to my personal fundraising page here: http://www.runwithtfk.