Last year when I decided to run the 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon, I also ended up becoming a charity runner. To be honest, I actually wasn’t keen on the idea at first. Being my first marathon, I wanted to try and really focus on the training. Angela from Our Clubhouse had reached to me a few times via social media about the idea of being a charity runner. Finally, around the anniversary of my grandfather’s passing, something just told me this was the right thing to do. I quickly contacted Angela and was thankful it wasn’t too late.
I am not sure why Angela specifically reached out to me, but I am glad she did. She didn’t know my story with my grandfather and at the time, I had no idea what Our Clubhouse was, but the pairing was perfect. When I first announced last year that I was running for a charity in the 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon, I also told the story of my grandfather. In so many words, my grandfather was my everything. He was my rock and to me he was superman. That blog post goes into much more detail about him and our relationship, but if it’s not something you want to go back and read, just know losing him was one of the biggest losses in my life.
So, just why did I seem to connect so well to Our Clubhouse? That’s easy to answer. The mission of Our Clubhouse is to help those touched by cancer. I know I was not the one diagnosed with cancer, but seeing a loved one diagnosed and lose that fight to cancer affected me more than anything. At time of his death and for several months after, I always felt alone. I didn’t know how to handle his death and it took me quite some time to really start my grieving process. I was lucky at some point to have found a grief support group (not associated with Our Clubhouse). It was finally through that group that I was bale to start my own grieving and healing.
Looking back, I wish I would have known about Our Clubhouse. It would have been an organization that I could have used during that time in my life. As I learned more and more about Our Clubhouse, the more and more I fell in love with the organization. First and foremost, everything is FREE to all members of the organization. One would think it’s just about hte emotional support, but they provide much, much more. There are educational activities, social activities such as dinners and fitness classes and varying workshops offered as well. More importantly though, they want to help all of those touched by cancer and they want to ensure family and friends are involved in the support process as well.
Even though I have not officially taken part of their services and have only been involved from the outside, I connect with what member Angie has to say about Our Clubhouse:
“Our Clubhouse has really provided an opportunity for our family to heal more than I ever could know. Our son was diagnosed with leukemia this past July and our world came crashing down. We had no idea what to do, or where to go, or who to turn to. I was introduced to Our Clubhouse by our pastor who brought in a brochure and we went. When my husband and I walked through the doors, we immediately started to cry. It was such a welcoming place and has helped our family grow stronger together and just have support to see other people going through these experiences. And I just don’t know where we’d be without Our Clubhouse. It does help your family be able to cope and move forward. It’s like a second home to us.”
I remember the first time I walked into Our Clubhouse. Even though I was not a member, I felt so welcomed and more importantly, I felt that my grandfather was right by my side. I knew this is an organization he’d be so proud of me for supporting. So, when I came back to run the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon, coming back in as a charity runner for Our Clubhouse was a no brainer. I couldn’t imagine at this point not helping this organization. This year though, I came in with a bigger fundraising goal than last year at $2,000!
One of the biggest pieces of my fundraising effort this year was of course my 300 burpees. I loved that so many of my friends and families enjoyed making me do more burpees than the year before. I only did 235 the year before and even though my number this year was 280, something told me to go for an even 300, so I did. The way I looked at it is this pain was temporary and if I could get this time, it was nothing as compared to the pain those felt going through chemo, etc.
What was very inspirational that night I did the burpees, is that we set up in their main room downstairs and they had some events going on. Many of the members hung around and asked what we were doing. Angela explained that to them and instead of walking away, they sat down and cheered us on. In many of their faces, I could see the genuine happiness that others were there to do something to bring awareness and fundraising to Our Clubhouse.
I’ve had this post in draft mode for what seems like several weeks now. I had actually planned to have it posted the day I went on Pittsburgh Today Live to talk about Running for A Reason. I thought it would be an easy post to write, but I was wrong. It brought up a lot of emotions and reminders of my grandfather. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him and wish so many times that I would see him standing at a finish line ready to give me a hug. He passed when I was only truly starting my life. I haven’t had him for so many big occasions and will miss him for so many more, but even though he is not physically with me, I know he’s always with me. When I have wanted to give up before a finish line or walk out of something because I can’t get the results I want right away, there has always been something keeping me going and I know that the something is always him.
My grandfather, affectionately known as Daddyjack, was more than just a grandfather to me. Even though he isn’t here with me today, he’s someone I never want to disappoint. I’ve actually found myself so many times thinking to myself, what would Daddyjack be thinking of me in a certain situation. Would he be proud or would he be disappointed? And let me tell you, if I ever feel that I would be disappointing him, my gut is wrecked and I do everything I can to fix that.
As we are now 10 days away from the 2016 Pittsburgh Marathon and what will be my 4th marathon, I am also in my last big push to hit my $2,000 fundraising goal! I know Daddyjack would be so proud of me for getting this close, but *thisclose* just isn’t good enough and I need help! As I publish this post, I am just $150 away from that goal. Seeing that we are just 10 days away, if I had just 15 people donate $10, I’d be at that goal in no time! So, when someone asks me why I am am running for a reason, my answer is a quick one. My reason is my grandfather.
If you feel compelled to help me hit my goal, you can donate HERE to my direct fundraising page. Thank you to EVERYONE who has donated thus far and to everyone who does here on out. Just know that you are helping all of those touched by cancer at Our Clubhouse. Thank you!