So, have you ever gone through a phase in life where the drama, lack of compassion, and disrespect that surrounds you (either directly or indirectly) leaves you wondering what’s happened to this thing called humanity? Or even one of those tough days that make you want to put yourself in time out so you can leave people behind for awhile?
(Surely I am not the only one … right?!)
Anyway, if that describes or has ever described you, I want to share with you something that has quickly restored my faith in humanity – and even more than that, it fills me with hope and encouragement daily as I get to witness the constant compassion, love, and caring of strangers at work.
What, you may wonder, am I talking about? Well, it’s an organization called IRUN4, and came about when its founder, Tim Boyle, started running and received a reply on Facebook from a friend Michael saying, “You can run for me anytime.” You see, Michael has Down Syndrome and bilateral hip dysplasia – and cannot run. So Tim runs for him. Read more about their story here: http://www.whoirun4.com/i-run-for/.
With those six words and Tim’s dedicated steps, a movement was birthed. IRUN4 (IR4) is all about the questions, “Who do you run for?” Runners are matched with a buddy, whether it be an adult or child, and then then their runners dedicate their running miles (or their workouts) to their buddies, posting updates several times a week on the organization’s facebook page. In the meantime, the other runners and buddy families are also offering support and encouragement to the posts on the page. Prayer requests are made and instantly responses begin flooding in, with runners dedicating extra miles to those requests, too. Buddy families often post too, offering encouragement to their runner friends before a big race or providing a glimpse into their daily live and events. I spent a while scrolling though the page when I first joined it, and was in tears within minutes – not from sadness, but just because I was struck by the beauty and sincerity of the communication there. This movement is quite simply people at their best.
It’s a powerful circle of inspiration, really – The runner’s buddy gains inspiration and encouragement from regular Facebook posts about the miles run in their honor. But the runner benefits too – they have a buddy cheering them on and an ongoing sense of purpose and gratitude for the ability to get out there and run. What better motivation can there be to get out there and run when you don’t feel like it than the reminder that there are those who cannot, and who are waiting to hear from you? And even more than that, both runner and buddy become a family of sorts and share a tight bond – amazing, considering that runners and buddies do not know one another before being matched! Another huge gain of this movement is awareness – with matches being made across the country (or even internationally), awareness of a multitude of disabilities increases via that runner/buddy bond as well as in the posts made on the Facebook page.
It’s hard to believe this movement only started a little over a year ago! They hit the 10,000 member mark last week and currently have 1600+ runners waiting to be matched with a buddy. Did you hear that? 1600+!! As of Saturday, I was number 1306 on the list. I have about 9 weeks or so to wait before I get a buddy, because they actually have far more runners signing up than buddies so far. (Know someone who’d be inspired by this? Please share!) Part of me is fundamentally sad that there are enough people with disabilities to ever GET to me at 1306 on the list, but realistically I know there are so many thousands more. So while I wait, I will do as so many others do, and dedicate my miles to the prayer list and my future buddy.
So what can you do? Well if you run, sign up to inspire and be inspired! If you know someone who would benefit from being matched up with a runner, point them toward IR4. It’d be so great to see news of IR4 start circling throughout some of the parent support groups for children with disabilities! What an amazing place to encourage and be encouraged!
Where should you go?
Their website: http://www.whoirun4.com/
Their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/irunformichael/
Yes, this particular discovery is primarily targeted toward two audiences: 1) runners and 2) people with disabilities – both children and adults. HOWEVER, hear me clearly … even though that’s the primary focus of this one, it is proof of how many huge-hearted people there are out there, and I know that it replicates itself in so many ways and in so many places every day. Take a moment and look around you for it – where do you see it at work in and around your life? If you can’t find it, how can you spark it?