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shoe4africa - make the difference!

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Running the NYC marathon has been a bucket list item for me for a long time. It started out as a personal challenge to see what my body and mind were capable of. It’s morphed into a challenge to see how I can use my body’s abilities to help less fortunate people. By partnering with Shoe4Africa charity, I’m turning my bucket list dream of running the NYC marathon into an opportunity to make other people’s dreams come true.

You might know the route of the 26.2-mile race, or at least be able to look it up. What you might not know is how I got to the starting line and how I came to run on behalf of Shoe4Africa. Here’s my story. I can break down my NYC marathon journey into 4 phases:

1. Lottery
2. Charity
3. Training
4. Race Day

PHASE 1 – LOTTERY: Every year for 8 years I entered the NYC marathon lottery and 8 years I lost. While waiting for this year’s lottery to be drawn, I made a pact with myself. This was going to be my year no matter what. I realized that I have no control over the lottery, and because I wanted my first (and only?) marathon to be the NYC marathon, I had let the lottery control my marathon destiny. I’m not getting any younger and you only live once. So, this year, when I found out that only 4% of the lottery applications were accepted, and I was not one of them, I bought myself a new pair of running shoes and moved on to Phase 2.

PHASE 2 – CHARITY: If you don’t get into the NYC marathon via the lottery, then you can get in by running for a charity. There were 52 charities to choose from….that started with the letter “A”!! I stopped counting there but kept scrolling and researching charities until I got through the letter Z. I spent hours trying to find a charity that met my criteria of: (1) it tugged at my heart strings; and (2) it had a seemingly realistic fundraising requirement. (Note: once I commit to a charity’s minimum fundraising requirement, whatever I don’t raise, I’m on the hook for. Having never run for a charity before, I nixed the ones that had ~$10,000 fundraising requirements. $3,000 seemed like a good place to start.) I found my charity towards the end of my search – in the letter “S” category. Shoe4Africa. Here’s where I need you to think a little outside of the box (as I had to do) because it’s not local and you’ve probably never heard of it. But, if the news has taught me anything, it’s that there are world problems beyond our backdoor where people are suffering and need help. Couple that with me having several family members working in the field of medicine (including the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). –> Enter Shoe4Africa. Up until 2015, there was not a single public children’s hospital in East or Central Africa. It took 7 years, but Shoe4Africa raised the funds and built it in Kenya – “The Shoe4Africa Children’s Hospital”. To this day, there is not a single children’s cancer hospital in Sub-Saharan Africa (the entire area south of the cream-colored Sahara Desert in the image of Africa at the top left of this page). Shoe4Africa is building it – “The Shoe4Africa Juli Anne Perry Children’s Cancer Hospital”. To put this in perspective, the US has a population of ~342 million people with >220 children’s hospitals (one within spitting distance of where I live). There are over 1 billion (with a “B”) people in Sub-Saharan Africa with 3 children’s hospitals and 0 children’s cancer hospitals. Currently, 9 out of 10 children in the region diagnosed with cancer do not survive. Having a direct connection to our local children’s hospital (and unfortunately having had to use their services on several occasions), it was crazy to think that people were not afforded the same chance at life through no fault of their own. One foot in front of the other for me to help build a hospital one brick at a time for billions of people. How awesome is that?!? (*Please help each dollar go farther by checking to see if your company has a corporate matching gifts program. Donations are tax deductible*)

PHASE 3 – TRAINING: Plan is to start in May. Wish me luck. I’ll keep you posted.

PHASE 4 – RACE DAY: November 3, 2024. Plan is to survive and finish. Assuming that happens, then I’ll say to also finish in under 4 hours and 40 minutes.

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