Happy 6 days until race day everyone! Today I wanted to share my reason for running. I have shared this in a video & a little bit on my Facebook page, but never on here where I have more space!
In the fall after a pretty intense race schedule, I wasn’t sure if I was interested in running the Pittsburgh Half in May. In 2015, my plan was for that race to be my first half marathon, but I got injured along the way & the only thing I could do was cheer on my friends from the running group as they completed their goal of doing this race. I also wasn’t sure that I wanted to spend the race fee, which can be pretty expensive if you wait long enough.
When I found out I could run for charity, I went on the Pittsburgh Marathon website & looked at all of the charities I could choose from. When I saw the ALS Association on the list, it was a no brainer. I immediately signed up & started fundraising. I could feel it was the right choice in my gut!
The last 4-5 months of being on this team has been a complete joy. It is so great seeing other runners come together for the same cause & who have a similar story to mine. I attended a smaller high school in Central PA & it was there that I met Mr. Mark French. He was a long time athletic trainer & teacher at my school. A lot of students would take his Athletic First Aid class & they would take it multiple years in a row just so that they could have him as a teacher. He coined crazy phrases & words that he used regularly & they were hilarious. “When in doubt, fire out” is by far his most famous. I can still hear him saying it to this day, even though it’s been almost 10 years since I’ve been in one of his classes. When I was applying to colleges, he wrote me a recommendation letter & he even let me read it. I wish I would have kept a copy for myself. It would be nice to read when I miss him. In 2008, he was diagnosed with ALS, & sadly passed away in June of 2009.
A memorial for him was held in my high school’s auditorium after he passed away & I’m telling you.. that place was overflowing. There was not an empty seat in that place & there were people who even had to stand in the hallway. Pictures played on the big screen, people spoke, & his brother played “How to Save a Life” by The Fray on the guitar. I still have a hard time listening to that song when it comes on the radio. A few months later, a friend of mine from school & I were chatting online & she mentioned to me that before we graduated, Mr. French told her to watch out for me.. & that I was his diamond in the rough. I was 2o years old at the time & as most young adults do, felt that I had no direction in life.. but the fact that Mr. French knew I was destined for something great meant that I had to trust him… because he knew everything. He ALWAYS knew everything. He used to tell you things about yourself that you swore you didn’t tell a single soul. But he knew it.
Many functions & fundraising events have gone on in his name. Dodgeball tournaments which have funded the Mark French Scholarship and made an annual donation to ALS research, ALS walks & I’m sure many more.
This year at the Pittsburgh Half marathon, his name will be on the front of my bib, & his name will be written on my back under “I Run For..”. 6 days before the race, I have raised $1,295.00 for the ALS Association & I couldn’t be prouder. I hope he’s proud of me too.
I think of you constantly, Mr. French. Your teachings have made an impact on everyone you’ve ever come in contact with, & I will never, ever forget the impact you had on my life. I miss you every day! Until I see you again someday.. (but not too soon)