December 1, 2012

The gift of running

Today I had a miserable day. Not really much to say about it except that from a work perspective, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. (Including a trip to IT that incapacitated my laptop at a very crucial decision-making time.) The upshot? I arrived home from work in the worst mood ever, intending to drink my dinner (wine = carbs, right?) and get to bed as soon as possible. I was going to be running an ultramarathon in the morning, and not only did I need physical rest, but I needed a mental respite too.

And then my roommate pointed out the stack of mail on the counter. Magazine, advertisement, takeout menu, advertisement, advertisement, catalog, takeout menu, catalog, takeout menu… big envelope with my name on it.


Back in July, I donated to a website called DonorsChoose. It’s a really cool site that allows you to donate money to help classrooms in need. Teachers post what they are seeking funding for, and then you provide donations to help them achieve those goals. Neat, huh? It shouldn’t be surprising that the project I chose to donate to was running-related. Mrs. Soprano, a teacher in a high-poverty Louisiana school, had the following request:

I want to give my students the opportunity to “travel” around the United States this year in PE! The majority of my students never leave Louisiana. So we are going to take a “running” view of the Good Ole USA! My students are young, eager learners! I would venture to say half of my students do not play organized sports, yet alone do any form of physical activity outside of school. So if I want to make a difference, which I strongly do, then I have to do it at school!

If this project is funded, I will have a pedometer for each student in my class, and even one for my assistant and myself. We will keep track of our steps and then convert them to mileage. Once we have converted them to mileage, we will track our progress around the USA. As we travel, we will learn a few high points about each state. So I will not only be working on cardiovascular endurance, but geography and math as well! What a better way to celebrate an Olympic year than by traveling the USA!

I was so happy to be able to donate to Mrs. Soprano’s classroom, and even more excited when she wrote me a personal email to thank me for my donation. But the best and most unexpected part came today:

Half a dozen beautifully illustrated thank you cards from the students in the class!

It also came with a note from Mrs. Soprano herself:

I never imagined that a small, yellow box would excite my students SO much! I handed out pedometers to one of my classes yesterday and told them we were going to see just how many steps we took in PE that day. I was completely amazed! They moved more and with more intensity than ever before! Instead of standing in place listening to instructions, they were jogging in place! Instead of waiting patiently while we (the teachers) spread the balls out for the next activity, I looked up and they were running around the coned circle! I just THOUGHT my students were active! They turn into exercise animals when the pedometers come out!! And I LOVE IT! Thank you so much for donating to my project! I am so excited to see all the fun and active things we will do with these small, yellow boxes!
With gratitude,
Mrs. Soprano

I can’t tell you how much my mood turned around after receiving these thank you cards. While I was honestly not looking forward to my ultramarathon tomorrow, these cards reminded me how cool it is that I get to run and be active, and I was just so glad that I donated to help make this happen! Besides Mrs. Soprano’s letter, the notes inside each of the student’s cards told me what each student liked about the pedometers – that they thought it was cool to count their steps, to count their movement, and that they liked the pedometers “bekues that maed evre thign fun.”

Tomorrow, I am going to “maek my run fun.” I don’t have a pedometer myself, but each of the 32 miles I run is going to be in honor of one of the 32 students in Mrs. Soprano’s class. I wish I had discovered my love of running earlier in life, and I am so excited that I was able to help these children discover the fun of exercise while they are young. Who knows? As another donor pointed out, we may be helping a future Olympian here!

Happy Friday 🙂


3 thoughts on “The gift of running”

  1. Awesome! I really hope those kids grow up to a) leave Louisiana, b) be active walkers/runners, and c) be curious enough about the world to want to put themselves out of their comfort zone. What a fantastic project 🙂

  2. That has to be very satisfying to receive such heartfelt gratitude from the students whose lives you have touched. Encouragement and support sometimes travels further than you could ever imagine. Warms my heart!

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