“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” Maya Angelou
When I got into obstacle course racing, running and endurance events I did it for me and me alone. I did it first to challenge myself physically because growing up I wasn’t super athletic, but my parents made sure I got a taste of sports. I did gymnastics for a while until I couldn’t get any more due to financial strains on my parents. That was a sad time. I loved it, but after so many injuries I started on my fitness journey once again. It wasn’t to lose weight, in fact, I would do anything to gain weight as I was always thin. It was more to have a balance between a demanding job and life.
The first year racing was fun. I ran so many races, all of them for a time as I ran with my friend and personal trainer Adam, so we always had a goal time. The more I ran them, the more I learned about other races and events and about getting more involved in the OCR community.
Injuries Around the Corner
As a result of so much racing I ended up awakening a few old injuries and so in 2013 I was diagnosed as chronic leg cramping, I couldn’t even run 5k without cramping up, I couldn’t do the simplest obstacle without cramping. Climbing a wall was always met with hesitation, I once cramped up on an 8-foot wall and was stuck until a friend came up and massaged my poor leg so I could move and finish the race. That same year I strained both my calf muscles during a ½ marathon and finished besides being carried off to the side by a police officer after cramping up so badly I couldn’t’ move. My doctors put me on leg rest for the remainder of the year, and it played with my head.
I thought there was no way I would be able to do OCR’s again or run or do anything. There was no way I would be able to tackle the Killington, VT Beast ever again. Instead, it was time to change my perspective; it had to change for me to enjoy racing again. The next year even though it was difficult I started “racing” simply for fun and with a purpose, with a goal of helping others either by getting them to toeing the start line or crossing the finish line.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a pretty healthy life. Two working legs, two strong arms, a healthy beating heart and a career that allows me the time and has afforded me the financial ability to run races in Canada and the U.S. It was time for me to give back so I began volunteering more or as often as I could at races and events, I began to race and run with adaptive athletes, I started racing and running for charity, to raise awareness and to raise funds for those causes that matter the most to me.
“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” Anthony Robbins
Who I Run 4 & Giving Back
Around that same time, I became the runner to my sweet buddy Charlie who has Autism and is non-verbal through the I Run 4 Michael organization http://www.whoirun4.com/about-ir4/ that pairs children with special needs with a runner and has led me to raise awareness for Autism and to dedicate my healthy fit lifestyle and all my adventures to him. I became a Run Ambassador for The Sears Great Canadian Run – Relay to End Kids Cancer for two years. This fueled the fire in me that up to this day is burning strong to help find a cure for Childhood Cancers and it reconnected me with the desire to raise funds for the Toronto Sick Kids Hospital and Foundation.
I went public with my initiative “With Love And A Smile” which helps provide care packages to Toronto’s homeless. The organization holds several clothing and food drives throughout the year and a Toy Drive during the Christmas holiday’s that benefits the Toronto Scott Mission, an organization that I have a strong tie with from childhood. I engaged my friends from the Toronto racing community for help and to give back. I also introduced a few to volunteer at soup kitchens where I have volunteered for some years. I began to raise awareness for the Support Our Troops campaign and got involved with Team RWB, I ran with adaptive athlete’s and helped those who are new to OCR’s and running.
Growing up it was engrained in me from a young age always to help others, to give back, to volunteer, to use our gifts for the good of others and I feel I am finally doing that. Helping the homeless was not new to me. It is a way for me to give back to all those who contributed to my family over the years.
I had been trying to find my gift, my purpose and all along it was there. Thanks to the OCR community, my endurance and racing community I found what makes my heart smile and it comes with the benefit of doing all the things I love, that which makes my soul happy. This community has shown me that it is filled with not only incredible athletes but with kind, compassionate and loving humans with a good heart who want to help others just as much as I do.
So today I ruck, I run, and I race for those who can’t, and I hope I am somehow a small ripple in a big ocean.
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