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When I became an atlasGO ambassador, I wondered how I’d be able to make an impact. Suppose I said that I got into running to make a change in anyone but myself. Stop reading right now. That would be a downright lie. Like many others, I started running because I wanted to get healthier. I’m also not the most engaged on social media – I seldom post much (unless the Golden State Warriors are in the playoffs). However, one thing I do regularly is to keep a journal. As running has become a huge part of my life, huge chunks of my last couple of Moleskines have been dedicated to feelings about training, races, the people I’ve met in the sport, the communities I’ve become a part of, and most recently my thoughts on using something I love to benefit others.
The answer was right in front of me: I could share thoughts, feelings, and occasional random pics from daily running activities in my community. I’ve felt the whole gamut of emotions when it comes to running. From being the fresh-faced newbie doing his first full marathon, briefly going overboard as the unhealthily obsessed competitor, then finally becoming the quiet veteran pushing to do his best -and enjoy- every workout, I feel like I’ve found a healthy balance. A new dimension has come into play for me in recent months: charity.
I’d heard of atlasGO from friends in my regular run clubs, so I decided to check out the group’s Tuesday night fun runs. I’ve found that the running community is very close-knit, and atlasGO is no exception. The ambassadors I met were welcoming, and I was sold on the mission of picking a cause to benefit with my miles. It wasn’t just charity for charity’s sake, too. When wildfires hit Northern California last year, I was pleased to know that some of my miles got turned into funds for victims who had lost their homes. Becoming more involved in the charity aspect of running has brought unexpected satisfaction.
I’m not the first charity runner, nor am I the biggest (financially speaking). One of the simplest life lessons I’ve adopted as personal value is that things don’t always have to be about you. It’s been applicable in grad school, at work, and in sports I’ve played. Running for charity touches on that, and it has made me more driven to help. In fact, it was at a fundraiser that atlasGO held for Back On My Feet (a nonprofit that combats homelessness through running) here in San Francisco where I got inspired to start the biggest undertaking of my young charity running career: a fundraiser for Back On My Feet to run this year’s New York Marathon!
Asking both friends and acquaintances for donations has placed me out of my comfort zone at times, but it was a great experience. To keep me motivated, I really learned about how Back On My Feet operates, and while I was in NYC, I made it a point to get to know the org directors that sponsored my entry and some of the members that the program has helped. I love that my training miles for this marathon (and there were a LOT) have gone to a program that helps build up the confidence of people who have had it *much* harder in life than I have.
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