It’s with fondness I remember my first half marathon completed outside of Florida. One year ago I laced up and conquered the Disneyland Half Marathon. Eh, maybe conquered isn’t the correct word; I survived. After battling a severe bought of nausea, I finished the half marathon in just under three hours by walking much of the course and steering clear of the sugary electrolyte beverage. It by far was not my finest race; however, it was the most impactful.
I could sit and write a detailed description of the run, what I encountered on the course, and what I did in my off-time. I could remind everyone about the aggravating lines just to enter the Expo, and then the secondary line to purchase merchandise. I could describe the high only a baseball fanatic would feel running inside Angel Stadium but I won’t. I won’t write any of that in this post.
Not only did I run my first race outside of Florida a year ago today, but I also ran my first race as a part of a fundraiser team, Team Muscle Makers for Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy. I debated doing the Disneyland Half Marathon and in true Disney fashion, the race sold out before I could register. I didn’t even realize registration had opened until my friends mentioned they signed up for the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare. With that, I began my hunt for the right fundraising team.
Not knowing how much difficulty I’d have fundraising, I searched for a team with minimal financial goals. Should you not meet your minimum fundraising goal for these charities, your credit card is charged the balance. Many of the teams required their runners to raise over $1000 for charity, but I found a few that were doable. The Special Olympics had a minimum goal of about $450. That definitely was achievable; however, given my prior volunteer experience with TSO in high school (aka everyone thinking I was a participant and not a volunteer due to my Treacher Collins Syndrome), I felt awkward joining their team.
One of my other options, and the ultimate choice, was Team Muscle Makers for UCMD. I had no personal experience with Muscular Dystrophy, but I absolutely could relate to a family that rallied around its child coping with a rare condition. My fundraising would aid in funding new treatments for UCMD in conjunction with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
I emailed Melissa, the loving mother who started Team Muscle Makers, and grabbed one of the final spots for the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon team. My next goal was to raise $650, if not more. Most of my donations came from family, a few from friends, and even one from a complete stranger (thanks Edmund!). I understood that not everyone was in the position to donate, but it shocked me how few people actually responded to my Facebook links. More so, it shocked me how few of my friends couldn’t even spare $1. When I wrote that any donation was greatly appreciated, I meant ANY donation. They add up. In the end, I surpassed my goal thanks to the undeniably charitable few. I would definitely try a different tactic next time instead of relying on social media and friends. How is it that everyone can donate (or says they donate) to the ALS ice bucket challenge, yet not to a friend raising money for a solid cause of her own?
When I arrived in California for the race, we had a team lunch the day before the Half Marathon. Of course, it wasn’t mandatory but I’d be foolish not to meet the family who gave its all to its son, Parker- the face and heart of Team Muscle Makers. I felt the closeness of the team even though I had never met them before. I felt the passion, sincerity, and gratitude behind the mission. I felt my own gratitude for being accepted into this team.
I haven’t been able to join Team Muscle Makers in another race since the traveling expenses are high, but I know that one day I’ll make it back there to run with the team once again. Thankfully, I’m still connected with Team Muscle Makers and Melissa through Facebook. I’m continuously inspired by their mission and their hearts. Disneyland has opened two new race weekends recently, doubling the fundraising efforts of TMM. What a beautiful opportunity for a deserving organization.
Thanks to one weekend in 2013, I have continued to run for children who can’t, even if I am on the opposite end of the country.
For more information on Team Muscle Makers for Ullrich Congenital Muscular Dystrophy click here.
To Donate to TMM for UCMD for the inaugural Avengers race weekend click http://www.active.com/donate/tmmucmd2014avengers
To Donate to TMM for UCMD for the inaugural Star Wars Weekend race weekend click http://www.active.com/donate/tmm4ucmdstarwars2015