“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." - John Bingham
This past year, two separate worlds in my life collided, leading me to sign up to run the Chicago Marathon for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I want to share my story with you.
The first part of the story involves me and running. I've been casually running for 15 years, taking breaks every few years as I've had my children. I trained for and ran my first half marathon in 2011. My finish time was nothing spectacular but it was a big undertaking as I had two small children at the time and I was proud to complete it. After taking a couple years off to have my third child, I ran additional half marathons in 2015, 2016, and then last fall in 2017. Each time I trained for and ran one, I got a little better, a little stronger, and set a new PR. After completing my last half on September 17, 2017, I officially caught the marathon bug and decided I wanted to check a full marathon off my bucket list.
The second part of the story involves me and my life long friend, Missy. The day after I ran my last half marathon, on September 18, 2017, I received the devastating news that my dear friend was gone. She took her life that day. Missy was not an aquaintance, not a casual friend. Missy was a life long, loyal, in the trenches with you kind of friend. We met in Sunday school in fourth grade. We grew up together. We navigated junior high, high school, boyfriends, marriages, joys, losses, girls trips, parenting, moves...so much life together. She was one of my dearest friends for 25 years. Receiving the news that she was gone and continuing on this journey of grief has been a punch to the gut; one that I still haven't caught my breath from.
I can't think of a better way to fulfill my desire to run a full 26.2 miles than to run on behalf of my dear Missy Bennett. As I train for and complete the race, I do it as a way to honor the beautiful woman she was, the life she lived, the years of memories I share with her, and to bring light to the crisis of mental health in our country. I truly believe that by talking about mental health and being open about our own suffering, we encourage others to be open about their own in order to get the help they need.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), has the mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. The money I raise will help AFSP fund scientific research, educate the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention, promote legislation that impacts suicide, and support survivors of suicide loss.
Please help me reach my fundraising goal. Any contribution will help the work of AFSP and all donations are 100% tax deductible. Donating online is safe and easy. To make an online donation please click the "Donate Now" button at the top of this page.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for reading my story and helping me spread awareness as I raise funds for this worthy cause. I also thank you and covet your prayers for Missy's husband and children, as they slowly rebuild their lives after this heartbreaking loss.
You can follow my training journey on Instagram at @annieshoeruns
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in our latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.