Team Special Olympics Chicago 2021
The always-awesome Linnea sprints through the finish line after a strong paddle.
This is how we roll in Monroe County when someone is having trouble getting to the finish line.
I don't personally know Sabrina, but this quote tells me she's my hero.
Not about the medals or the podium, but damn, that's a good feeling right there.
Monroe County (South Florida, Key West) athletes Amber, Jennifer and Scott complete a 5k for Down Syndrome Awareness Day. (with Erin Stover Sickmen and Pat Hart)
Monroe County SUP athletes in competition
I'm running to help Special Olympics athletes—your support is appreciated!
Those who know me know that I hate running. (Yes, still.) Over the course of the past year though, that relationship has at least mellowed to hate/love. I never look forward to a run, but I love how I feel after. I love that running has kept me healthy during Covid and has led me to some truly amazing and strange experiences—like running in the Utah high desert in the middle of the night. As someone who always needs a "next thing", something to plan and anticipate, running provides a nice cadence (oh, running humor, I crack myself up!), lining up one race after another, seemingly for all eternity. So, as I continue to stumble down this tortuous path, a marathon is the next logical step. "Logical" or "masochistic"? I may be confusing those terms.
A full marathon. 26.2 miles. Oof. I've always thought marathon courses were set to serve as playgrounds for mythical half-human gazelles and that mere mortals like me, with asthma and creaky knees, would just be ground to dust if we were to get in the path of all that athletic frolicking. That may actually be true—we'll see. Nonetheless, here I am, fully registered for the Chicago 2021 Marathon.
I found some early inspiration from "Brittany Runs a Marathon", so thank you pop culture. To take on something like this though, I need a bit more push than I can find in a sweet indie film. If there's one thing that ALWAYS inspires me, it's my friends in Special Olympics. I've worked for several years as a mentor in the Athlete Leadership Program, which teaches valuable life skills and community involvement, and as a volunteer/helper/cheerleader for Bocce, Bowling and Standup Paddleboarding (SUP). Most recently, I became certified to coach SUP. It's impossible to "work" a shift with Special Olympics and not feel better at the end of it. No matter if I'm stressed out or lagging in energy, I feel better after. No matter if the water is choppy or it's a thousand degrees outside (common here in Key West), I feel better after. A little like running, I suppose. What makes that transformation happen though is the athletes. It sounds pedestrian to say that there energy is infectious, but damn, there's just no other way to phrase it. They are INCREDIBLE. You will nevernevernevernever see harder work, stronger joy or more positive attitudes than you will from these athletes.
I'm beyond honored to be running the Chicago Marathon for Special Olympics Chicago. My heart is in South Florida, but I'm also thrilled to help support athletes in the Midwest, my original home sweet home. It's a wide country full of regional Special Olympics program, but the bottom line is that we're all in it together. We all benefit from a culture that encourages inclusion. So, when I run (walk, crawl, whatever) those 26.2 miles, I'll be thinking about the athletes and reminding myself to "be brave in the attempt".
From Special Olympics Chicago:
We believe connecting people through sports and physical activity are the beginning steps in spreading our mission of inclusion, acceptance, and joy. Together, we can cross the finish line towards more inclusive communities… one runner at a time!
Special Olympics Chicago also accepts check donations, mailed to the address below. Please make sure to include in the memo section or on a note, the name of the fundraiser (Erin Stover Sickmen) you would like to support.
Special Olympics Chicago
2 E. 8th St.
Chicago, IL 60605