Such is the case in the reasoning of 25 runners, seven members of a support crew and one who served in both roles from our Cleveland and Bradley County community who awoke one morning and declared, “I will run from Cleveland, Tenn., to Boston, Mass.”
Actually, it’s not quite that simple.
Decisions to make the approximately 1,075-mile trek to Beantown in an exquisitely detailed fundraiser called Run Now Relay came with humanitarian purpose, personal commitment and individual desire to make a difference in the lives of those whose lives were shattered a year ago in the terrorist bombings at the Boston Marathon.
Over the past 1 1/2 weeks, and even before, our newspaper has published their stories, and more importantly we believe, we have given them a face and a voice. They have answered the most frequently asked question ... “Why?” ... and they have done it both eloquently and from the heart.
On Saturday afternoon, their quest ended with their arrival in Boston. But their Vision Quest is still going strong, as it will today, tomorrow, next week, another year and well into their future because they step to the beat of hearts filled with love in a world too often beleaguered by hate.
Four of the 26 runners earlier today even ran the legendary Boston Marathon, considered by most enthusiasts to be the granddaddy of all running events.
But why do it? Why leave loved ones, risk personal safety and invest time, energy and money into such a cause for strangers whose names they will never know and whose paths they are not likely ever to cross; at least, in this lifetime.
Well ... consider:
- “We are running with a cause ... to stand with Boston and the running community.”
- “I love that this is an adventure with purpose.”
- “We were summoned by love and compassion to reach out to the Boston community and offer hope from their Tennessee brothers and sisters, ‘The Volunteers.’”
- “I hope our donation can help disadvantaged youth experience the same benefits [of confidence and strength].”
- “We run with a mission to declare that ‘love’ is more contagious, more powerful and more explosive than any bomb meant for destruction and harm.”
- “While I’ll never get a chance to understand the ‘why’ of the bombings, I will get a chance to stand up for what is right, and support those who were so unfairly treated.”
- “We’ve been summoned to unite with not just those who run, but with all who have felt the crippling effect of someone’s hate and violence.”
- “We are a team with a message that no man runs alone.”
- “If I could wish for one thing at the end of Run Now Relay, I would wish that Boston would realize that they are not an island; and in fact, all of mankind is with them.”
- “To do something special and tangible that will help our neighbors ... the chance to reach out and give a hand.”
- “While we planned the trip to offer support to others, we have repeatedly been on the receiving end. So, sometimes life is funny. When you give, you receive.”
- “I'll remember that any tragedy will be met with support from the citizens of the greatest country in the world. I'll remember that we, the United States of America, are still One Nation Under God. We are strong, united and liberated. We are free.”
- “The bit of discomfort that we feel is nothing compared to what the people of Boston felt that day, and in the year since. Anything we can do to show them that we care, and that, as runners, we will remain strong is worth anything we are enduring as we complete our runs.”
- “When you encourage someone at the finish line, you are encouraging them at life in general.”
These are a few thoughts from just some of the Run Now Relay participants. Who said them? It doesn’t really matter ... because each had a reason, and all had a cause. It was the same cause. It was a people cause. Theirs was the collective voice of mankind.
To date, our newspaper has not identified all the team members by name. Such tribute is long overdue. It can be found below:
Runners: Dana Ayers, Jaime Barks, Don Bennett, Matt Carlson, Johnny Clemons, Britney Cooke, Yuri Davis, Corey Divel, Cameron Fisher, Fred Garmon, Duane Goff, Robert Green, Shane Melton, Cindy Moore, Kyle Page, Matt Ryerson, Tricia Sherlin, E.K. Slaughter, Tim Spires, Melissa Steve, Nikki Thomas, Madison Torrence, Vanessa Torrence, Chris Wilds and Ben Williams.
Support Crew: Teddie Bennett, Robert Briggs, Clark Campbell, Jason Hensley, Lee McChesney, Allen Nope, Craig Walker and Mike Watkins.
Runner & Support Crew: Ivey Lawrence.
Runners run. People help people. Cause trumps chaos.
And life is good. Always has been. Always will be ... especially when guided by the warmth of the human heart, the glow of an unbridled spirit and the gentle nudge of a divine hand.
Congratulations, Run Now Relay.
Your valor has given us all yet another reason to believe.