Because the course covers three mountain ranges the total vertical ascent will be almost 20,000 feet. My run begins July 2 and will conclude on July 5. Temperatures in the desert will be between 110 and 120 degrees, but because of the time of year, we may also have snow on the mountain. I’m running to raise money for a new school for underprivileged children in South St. Louis. By taking on a challenge for a few days, I hope to draw attention to the challenge these kids face, the obstacles in their way, and they great work that can continue to happen at SouthSide Early Childhood Center.
I’ve always loved children. The potential they represent and their ability to live in and enjoy the present without worrying about the future. Whether through babysitting when I was younger, teaching swimming lessons or Junior Achievement as I got older, or being a Big Brother, I’ve tried to nurture and inspire children. Teaching them skills that they can take with them, but never losing sight of making sure they have fun on the way. My wife and I share this love and, we were in complete agreement that we wanted a family with as many kids as we could handle!
When we found out we couldn’t have children naturally, we had no hesitation in starting the adoption process to build our family. We wanted to give our children the chances in life that they may not otherwise have. Initial problems didn’t discourage us, as we knew that we weren’t in control of the situation, and we soon had a beautiful baby boy, followed two years later by another. Our sons are the joys of our lives and we can’t imagine life without them.
We knew there was more we could do and started looking for ways to help. When the opportunity to join SouthSide’s board, I jumped at the chance. Here was an organization that had been around for 126 years, serving families in need, and rather than just write a check, I could jump in and really help them help these kids and their families. After meeting a number of the kids and the great staff, I was inspired to run my first marathon for them: the GO! St. Louis Marathon in April 2011. After that, I was hooked, and descended into a type of running madness, pushing distances and running 31, then 50 and finally 92 miles in my most recent race. As I pushed the distance and broke through my own physical and mental barriers, I drew inspiration from the kids and their stories. I thought about how, if they don’t break through their own barriers before starting kindergarten (by becoming socially, emotionally and educationally equal to their peers), their chances to graduate from high school and college quickly slip away. It’s amazing to think that you have to get so much right so early for them to have a chance later on.
So that’s why I’m running. We’re building a new school (only the third in our 126 years) that will increase our capacity by over 40%, and allow us to help more great kids have that chance in life. I can’t adopt 140 kids, but I can help them break through their barriers by breaking through my own.
St. Louis, MO
Check out Tim Burke's website HERE.
On April 6th, 2008, Mary and Colleen McDermott, Tammi Rech, and I participated in the GO St. Louis Half-Marathon. Despite Mary’s medical conditions, she successfully finished the race with her friend Tammi along her side. She walked past the finish line with her sweet smile and hugged her mom, Connie, and twin-sister, Colleen, who enthusiastically awaited her arrival. Mary had never been a quitter in life; she accepted challenges with open arms and persevered to the end.
On March 3rd, 1984, Mary and her twin Colleen were born two months premature. Mary spent her first five months fighting for her life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. Diagnosed as an infant with biliary atresia (a rare condition that affects the liver) and various heart problems, Mary spent many hours as a child in and out of doctor’s offices at Cardinal Glennon. She had liver surgery and two heart surgeries, but if you had never seen her scars, you wouldn't have known. Mary never dwelled on the suffering and tough times in her life. She instead accepted her condition without question or complaint and reached out to others in their times of need.
When she was in college, Mary again began to suffer from liver problems. Due to the biliary atresia, doctors informed her that she would need a liver transplant and placed her on the waiting list. Although Mary was nervous about the surgery, she was incredibly hopeful and optimistic about the future. The team of doctors and Mary knew the new liver would inevitably be donated, and Mary was ready to embark on a new journey in her life. However, on December 21st, 2008, Mary died suddenly in her sleep at the age of 24 and never received the liver transplant.
Prior to Mary’s death, Colleen had aspired to run a marathon for Mary. She wanted to emulate Mary’s unwavering perseverance and show Mary she was fighting along with her. After her death, Colleen continued to pursue this goal, but now in honor of Mary’s life. Colleen’s other sister Liz, Liz’s husband Tom Hare and I decided to join her in running the GO St. Louis 2009 Marathon in Mary’s memory. After the news spread about the race, the team went from six to almost 30 family and friends, including Mary’s parents Bill and Connie McDermott, running and walking the half or full marathon. Team members traveled from Colorado, Kansas City, and DC to participate in the race. Our team had almost 30 individuals participating, but we had many more cheering us on including Mary.
After the 2009 effort, we have continued to make it a yearly tradition of running or walking the GO St. Louis Half-Marathon in remembrance of Mary. Ultimately, the day begins with the run, but ends with family and friends gathering to celebrate Mary’s life. As Bill, Connie, Colleen, Liz, and Tom have always known, “There will always be something about Mary.”
St. Louis, Missouri
Leslie Hesse — I Run for My Dad
On November 7th, 2008, at age 56, my dad was going for his first colonscopy. To his (and our) surprise he was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had an immediate colon resection, only to find soon after that this unpleasant cancer had traveled outside the colon wall. He has battled surgeries, chemo, radiation and was only given 2 years. After radiation he was 6 months free of chemo, but on October 6th of 2010, he was told the cancer showed up on his abdomen and pelvic area. My dad is the youngest of 12 siblings, a husband, a father of 3 children, a grandfather of 7, a farmer, full time worker, and strong Lutheran. Nothing is going to stop him. In May 2010 I made the decision that I would start the journey to run for my dad. I want others to realize how important it is to get an annual colonoscopy. So if you see me running, I will be wearing a T-shirt supporting a fight against colon cancer, and ultimately supporting my dad. This man is not only my dad but a powerful man that has the strongest inspiration, power, drive, and patience. So today is the day I run in support of my dad. Two years ago he was told he wouldn’t even be here…but he is here and continues to fight. I run this race and all races in dedication to my dad that will be waiting for me at the finish line in open arms. I love you DAD!!!
Always and Sincerely,
Your daughter on a mission
Cole Camp, MO
My name is Erica Griffin and I am a 33-year old wife, mother, and a breast cancer survivor. On September 16, 2008, at the age of 30, I was diagnosed with invasive Stage 3 breast cancer. I have always ate a healthy diet, maintained a healthy weight, and have been a runner for the past 7 years, I also have no family history of breast cancer, or any other kind of cancer for that matter. So as you can imagine, my diagnosis completely blew us away. At the time, our kids were 13, 11, and 4 and together we borrowed a statement from my doctor at Siteman Cancer Center and we said that "Breast cancer would NOT scare us!" We were going to fight with all we had. Our favorite Bible verse is Mark 5:36, "Don't be afraid, just believe." So that's just what we did. My treatment plan included 4 surgeries, 4 1/2 months of chemotherapy, 6 weeks of radiation, a full year of another targeted drug treatment, and a complete hysterectomy. To say that cancer completely took over our year would be an understatement, and we as a family strove for as much normalcy as we could. As I healed from surgeries and began to pick up with my running again, it became clear that running, to me, helped define "normalcy." I'll never forget the look on my kids' faces when they came downstairs one morning to find me lacing up my running shoes, getting ready to head out for a run. You could almost see them relax a little as they smiled and nodded. I did 4 miles that day, my first run back after taking a month off. Certainly less than what I was used to, considering I ran 30-40 miles/week before cancer invaded our lives, but I conquered that distance like it was a marathon, and I was SO PROUD!I continued running throughout chemo, radiation, and the full year of treatment; my doctors were so proud of me, and I think a little amazed! Five months after I completed treatment, we booked a family vacation to Disney World and I ran my second half marathon, the Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon in Orlando, FL. We celebrated being free from treatments and enjoyed relaxing and being together. I ran my first full marathon this past October in Kansas City, and now the GO! St. Louis Marathon will be my second...but it will be first in my heart. I am looking forward to running through Central West End and right in front of Siteman Cancer Center, where I once watched the streets below from a recliner while hooked up to livesaving chemotherapy. I know I will feel an amazing sense of how truly far I have come when I run past the place that was my lifeline and be so thankful for my team of doctors that saved my life. I am so blessed. And I can't wait!
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