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The Audacity of Racing for a Cause

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The Canadian contingent from Team World Vision who participated in the New York City Marathon.
​The Canadian contingent from Team World Vision who participated in the New York City Marathon (from left): Leo Tang, Dan Garcia, Leah Sakata, Wayne Westby and Michael Messenger.

A Team World Vision member recounts fundraising for the New York City Marathon


I wake to a 4 a.m. alarm, excited for the adventure ahead. Excited that my six months of training is finally being put to the test; excited to be running alongside 50,000 participants cheered on by two million spectators; excited to see this beautiful city on foot, to mentally capture the day’s experience and share it later with my generous supporters. In a few hours, I’ll be running the 2014 New York City Marathon. 
 
The race is so popular that only 15 per cent of those wanting to participate get in, and for those fortunate enough to be selected, it’s often a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So, when we—five Canadians—were given the opportunity to run this epic race with Team World Vision​, we decided to make it really worthwhile by raising more money than any of us had ever done before. We nervously set an audacious goal of $10,000 per person—$50,000 in total for the team. The money would help protect vulnerable children from working in dangerous, dirty and degrading jobs.
 
When I trained for the 2013 Niagara Falls Marathon, I raised $4,000, so I questioned my ability to increase that amount by 250 per cent, because I’d be approaching many of the same people who had donated less than a year ago. Still, I committed to the goal without a clear plan on how to make it happen—no different from signing up to run your first race, picking a distance that scares you, then avoiding listening to all the voices in your head saying you can’t possibly do it.
 
Back to the morning of the race: A subway, a ferry and a bus ride later, I was standing at the start line on the Verrazano Bridge. Wind gusts reaching up to 80 km/h tossed plastic bags overhead as Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” blared on the sound system. We were off. Surprisingly, the cold and wind had not deterred New Yorkers from coming out to support us. Millions lined the streets playing music, holding up motivational signs and encouraging our efforts. While many of them thought we were brave for running a marathon, I thought they were even more courageous for volunteering their Sunday and braving these conditions for our benefit!
 
Running is an individual activity. Training several times per week, researching and purchasing running gear, developing a pre-run routine and calculating split times captured on our GPS watches are all part of a marathoner’s life. If not careful, it’s easy to become self-absorbed with these activities. That’s why I’m happy to have added a big fundraising component to the mix, as it balanced things out for me. I connected with former colleagues, high school buddies and other people whom I’d lost touch with over the years. I spent time with donors who wanted to know more about World Vision’s work in child protection. I was floored when colleagues organized a pizza lunch fundraiser and even took a general offering at work to help me reach my goal. Running for a worthy cause created a community and made the achievement so much more memorable.
 
Half a mile to the finish line, energized by thoughts of teammates, supporters and kids who are suffering way more than me, I give everything I have and finish in 4:01:11; contributing $10,300 to our team’s $59,600. Together with our teammates from the U.S., Team World Vision raised more than US$280,000 at the NYC Marathon.
 
I couldn’t be more thankful for my supporters—financial, spiritual, logistical and emotional—for their generous and caring hearts, and for being part of this unforgettable event with me.


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This article was published on January 9, 2015.​
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