Everyone takes up running for a different reason - to lose weight, improve fitness, relieve stress, compete, or just pass the time. For me, it’s much more than something to do. I run because I’m able to, knowing not everyone can.
Lacing up my running shoes, pounding the pavement, controlling my breathing while on a run â€• these may seem like simple things, but I no longer take little things for granted. After my father was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in October 2016, I took up running not only for myself but also for my father and all those impacted by the progressive neurodegenerative disease.
Once ALS starts, it almost always progresses, eventually taking away the ability to walk, dress, write, speak, swallow, and breathe, significantly shortening the life span. How fast and in what order this occurs will vary from person to person. Despite these physical limitations, ALS never impacts an individual’s mental capacity.
That is how I knew my dad was still beaming after I completed my first half marathon. He glowed with pride after I raised thousands of dollars for the ALS Association Western Pennsylvania Chapter
as a charity runner and was thrilled to congratulated me via FaceTime following the 2018 UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon. He’ll still be with me in spirit but sadly not in person when I cross that finish line again on May 5, 2019.
I also run to support the ALS Association Western Pennsylvania Chapter, an organization that went above and beyond to support my father and family over the past two years. The Association is a wealth of knowledge for those impacted by the disease, providing countless free services and resources to help both patients living with ALS and their families. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to run for a reason and bring attention to this important cause that touches the lives of so many.
Registering as a charity runner and fundraising for the Association is the best way I can think to give back to an organization that has given so much to my family and me. You could say it was my dad who inspired me, because even on his worst days, I knew he was still focused on supporting his family and others living with ALS. In fact, we donated all of his ALS equipment, including a custom-made wheelchair, to the Association’s “loaner’s closet,” because we know that’s what my dad would have wanted.
My dad wanted to help others with the same disease he suffered from, so I’ve now taken up the torch in his honor. As a member of Team Challenge ALS, I’m helping to raise money and awareness to support global research, local and national advocacy efforts, and patient care. Our team of patients, families, sponsors, employees, and general Association supporters is leading a grassroots effort to touch the ALS community with hope for the future.
And it’s not just the team that makes running for a reason such a special experience! I’ve got incredible family members like my sister and daughter who run with me and, as an elementary school teacher, I also have my amazing colleagues, students and parents who raised more than $2,000 in just four days during a penny war competition. I couldn’t do what I do without all of these supporters!
I’m only one person, but I’m finding that I can make a difference. Whether you want to honor a loved one, raise awareness of a meaningful cause close to your heart, or fundraise for an organization that has supported you and/or someone you know, the Run for a Reason Charity Program presented by Bank of America gives you the unique opportunity to combine your passion with purpose.
Click here to support Amy and The ALS Association Western Pennsylvania Chapter team of charity runners. Click here for more information about the Run for a Reason Charity Program presented by Bank of America.