I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of something big…something amazing…something inspirational…something I want and need to tell you all about!! Recently I came across a website dedicated to matching runners up with Special Needs children who then in turn run for that child. It is called I Run 4 (IR4). This group “allows runners to find a whole new sense of purpose in their running while sharing who they are running for and bringing awareness to diseases and disabilities of all types“. I was amazed at the stories I saw and knew in my heart that I wanted to be a part of this also! I signed up and after about 6-7 weeks, I was matched with the most amazing little girl named Riley. She is an inspiration to me like no other! Meet Riley….
I asked Riley’s mom if she would want to guest post here on my blog also to tell her side of it all and she was more than happy to put something together to share with you. Here is her story…
For those of you who follow this blog, you know that Jennifer is a runner, something I am definitely not..LOL. Quite frankly I’ve always thought that people who run for fun were just plain crazy. Until my recent commitment to Herbalife and Fit Camps, you’d only find me running if something was after me. HAHA! That being said. I couldn’t be more thankful and blessed by those crazy people who run for fun… and here’s why!
I was introduced to a group called I Run 4 Michael by a friend of mine who had recently signed up as a runner. She encouraged me to sign my daughter Riley up for the program, hoping they would be matched. So I went to the website (http://whoirun4.com) and signed her up. . Some of you may not be familiar with IR4, so here’s a little background… A man named Tim, who loves to run became friends with Michael, who has Down Syndrome as well as bilateral hip dysplasia. Michael was unable to run and told Tim “You can run for me anytime”. This planted a seed that started this wonderful organization. Runners are matched with children with special needs, and they run for them.
Not long after signing up, we were notified of our match…Jennifer. We have connected through Facebook and Riley gets so excited to see new messages and photos from Jennifer. We also send messages and pics from Riley to help keep Jennifer inspired to run the extra mile. The I Run 4 group on Facebook is big, it is so awesome to see all of the people running in honor of those who can’t.
I have shared our IR4 story with many of my friends who have in turn signed up their children. This year at our annual Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome Awareness, Riley carried a sign that said “I walk for Jennifer because she runs for me” and had the Buddy Walk and IR4 logos on it. It was really special, Riley was so proud of her sign!
Riley is 8 years old and has Down Syndrome, she is smart, funny, and super sassy, and she loves making new friends. I think that is the best part of the I Run 4 organization, the friendships! If you are a runner, I’d like to encourage you to join this wonderful group. You never know the impact you could have on a child. It makes my Riley so happy to know that Jennifer is thinking of her and running for her. I would like to take this opportunity to tell Jennifer “Thank You” for allowing me to guest blog on her site, and for running for Riley. You honor and inspire her, and that means the world to me! We are so excited to get to know you better! Keep running! ~Alena
Soooooo…how awesome is all that?! I just love the feeling I get from being a part of this special family and being a part of something so huge and inspirational! I encourage all of you to go to the I Run 4 website and just check it out. Maybe you will be inclined to sign up and share your love of running with someone who may not be able to experience it the same way you can…and maybe you wont…but I do promise that you will at least be touched by these stories and these families.
I also encourage all of you that read this to pass it on to your friends. The waiting list of runners who are eager to be matched with a special needs child has grown large…over 1000 and growing! If you know a child who would love to become an inspiration to one of our runners…please go and sign them up! You won’t regret it….I promise that!
I leave you with this amazing video that was put together recently to help spread the word about I Run 4 and to show others what we are all about 🙂
- Running Inspiration (amysfitnessquest.wordpress.com)
- Dirt On Our Shoes (dirtonourshoes.wordpress.com)