Ambassador of Reconciliation
4/24/15 at 02:29 PM 2 Comments

Let Us Run with Perseverance

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It was a tough day to run a marathon—raw and rainy and windy—but thousands of incredible athletes did it in Boston on April 20, 2015. 30,000 runners—30,000 stories of hardship and endurance and spirit. Here are a few of their stories:

Fourteen years ago, Laura Joyce of Minnesota ran the Boston Marathon. That weekend, she met Nate Davis, whose family has been close to ours since he was five years old. Nate and Laura fell in love, got married, had two babies (the second one just a year ago), trained like crazy, and came back from their home in California to run Boston together this year. I was thrilled to be able to give both of them their medals.

Laura at the finish line--with a big smile even though she is frozen to the bone!
Giving Nate his medal

Thousands of runners do the Marathon to honor someone special or raise money for a cause. Members of Team MR8, including actor Sean Astin and women’s wheelchair winner Tatyana McFadden, ran in memory of eight-year-old Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard, to promote his message of peace and raise money for charitable causes. Tom Feller, son of my high school classmate Deborah Morrison Feller, ran the marathon again this year to raise money for a school for kids with autism. Jessica Brovold ran for Home Away Boston, which provides housing for families with seriously ill children. Her own little daughter Kallie was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was four years old, and Home Away Boston provided housing for the family when they came from South Dakota to get treatment for Kallie in Boston.

Women's wheelchair winner Tatyana McFadden and Martin Richard's father, Bill, of Team MR8
Tom Feller with American flags

All marathon runners have obstacles to tackle, but some are particularly inspirational. A year before the 2015 Marathon, Richard Nasser was in a coma on life support, with doctors unsure whether he would even survive. He not only survived massive injuries, but miraculously started running again competitively within months. At the finish line of this year’s Marathon, he knelt down and proposed to his girlfriend. You can read his story here. I gave a medal to a blind runner and asked if I could take his picture. I later learned he was Randy Pierce, who overcame not only blindness but also a neurological disease that put him in a wheelchair for one year, eight months, and 21 days. You can read his story in this Sports Illustrated article. And the last person to finish the Marathon was just as much a winner as the first person to cross the finish line. Maickel Melamed of Venezuela, just one week shy of his fortieth birthday, pressed on through the night and completed the race at 5 a.m. the next day. Melamed suffers from muscular dystrophy, which causes progressive muscle weakness and eventually death. Having lost a nephew to muscular dystrophy at age 16, I am astounded that someone with this debilitating disease could even take one step at age 40, never mind take part in such a grueling test.

Blind runner Randy Pierce with teammates from Team with a Vision
Maickel Melamed finishing the course, after 20 grueling hours

And on the Saturday before Marathon Monday, another group of remarkable people did the “Tough Ruck,” a marathon course through Minuteman National Historical Park in Concord, Massachusetts. Tough Ruckers, who carry full packs as they race to honor military heroes and raise money for their families, were among the first to help those who were injured in the bombings two years ago. When backpacks were banned in the Marathon after 2013, the Tough Ruck changed venue. This year it was open to civilians for the first time, so my daughter Christine participated. The Tough Ruck is done in partnership with the Boston Athletic Association, so the finishers earn the same well-deserved medal.

Chrissy with her medal after the Tough Ruck
Chrissy with Carlos Arredondo, the man in the cowboy hat who helped the injured at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon

Few of us will ever run an actual 26.2-mile marathon. But for every one of us, life is a race with its own obstacles and hardships. We all have to face our own handicaps and climb our own “Heartbreak Hill.” Whatever our particular challenges, “let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:1-2).

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Is. 40:31).


After the Marathon bombings in 2013, I wrote “Terror at the Marathon” and “United We Stand.” My follow-up article after the 2014 Marathon was “All Shall Be Well.”

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