Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1(b) NRS)
“But I don’t want to run a marathon!”
I think every parent of a child with special needs has received the pep talk, “This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Pace yourself.”
This is great advice for all of us who are caregivers to children who have extraordinary needs. Pay attention to how you care for yourself, how you spread your energy, so that you don’t burn out and you have enough in the tank for the long road ahead. But what if running a marathon was never your goal? What if your personal road to acceptance means literally have running 26.2 miles?
Special needs parent Elizabeth Elder joined one of my support groups and shared her inspiring story:
My husband, James, and I have two beautiful children, a four year old daughter, Annabelle, and a three year old son, Blair. Both of our children were recently diagnosed with a rare mitochondrial disorder that has caused significant developmental delays and mobility challenges. Although we believe they will eventually walk and hopefully run someday, they can’t right now. In fact, they work very hard to sit up on their own. But what they lack in strength, they make up in determination, while flashing the most infectious smiles!
Frankly, running a full marathon has never interested me. Until one day about five months ago… I was having a difficult day and my dear husband gave me a pep talk. Having run the New York City marathon himself in 2009, James likened our challenge to running the marathon. He explained how our situation is not like a sprint. We can’t just give it our all with the comfort of knowing it will quickly be over. Instead, we have to follow our kids’ lead and give it our all, day after day, knowing that we have a long road ahead of us. To that, I responded, “but I don’t want to run a marathon!”
The next day I was actually on a run when I had a great epiphany: I CAN run a marathon and I WILL! From that moment, I accepted the road we are on and decided to use my strength to embrace what I have: an able body and two disabled children. Running a marathon is a huge personal achievement for anyone. However for me, running the NYC marathon is about overcoming challenges and proving that perseverance wins.
So on November 1st, I can and I will give it everything I have in honor of Annabelle and Blair and every other determined soul who doesn’t let their disabled body stop them from their own marathon.
Elizabeth has taken on training for the NYC Marathon in order to raise awareness and funds for Achilles International. So far, friends and family has helped her raise over $7,000, far exceeding her original goal. I hope my readers will join me in wishing her well and prayers for a successful journey, both physically and emotionally. You can learn more about Achilles International, a charity for children with disabilities and war veterans, here: Achilles International
Supporting God, Help each of us run with perseverance the task set before us. The fact that it is hard at times reminds us that we need you. We lift up Elizabeth in her goal for NYC and pray blessings on her journey of self-discovery. Amen
“Exercising In The Park” by mapichai from FreeDigitalPhotos.Net.jpg