Monday, November 19, 2012

Something more fulfilling than running

Setting up for the many in need
Last night me and my family spent a few hours helping to provide basic items to families in need. Some of the recipients were facing difficult economic circumstances, while others were still disrupted from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Our task involved handing out vitamins, baby food and supplies to people. My wife possesses great process and organizational skills and she had me and the kids working seamlessly to serve the many dozens of families that came through our station.

We found out about this volunteering opportunity through Island Harvest, a food bank on Long Island. I was happy to help, but I never expected to feel so good about what I was doing. When you offer things of value to people for free, you'd expect a little greediness. I was amazed by how so many asked only for what they needed, and were so gracious about receiving it.

That experience made me think about how racing and charity are often tied together. Just about every race has some cause attached to it. In some cases, the race is explicitly about the charity, like breast cancer or multiple sclerosis. Other races, like the ING NY Marathon, raise a collective $25 million by allowing teams of charity runners an opportunity to run in the race.

My family has a particular attachment to the Marcie Mazzola Foundation race that is held every April, because it was my first-ever race and it's all about the Foundation. Other races I run are less clear about the causes they serve and some are not tied to a charity at all. I've decided that, in the future, if I run in a race that that has no clear connection to a cause, I'll donate money for every mile I run. But as good as it feels to donate money, I've learned that it's even more gratifying to donate time.

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