Running for MDA Families is How I #LiveUnlimited

Living unlimited is when someone faces a difficult, uncomfortable situation or a “limit” placed on them – by themselves or others — but has the fortitude to defy the limit or move through it.

Yesterday, at my visit to one of our 80 MDA Summer Camps, I was reminded again and again how our families face and defy limits every day. I saw a 12-year-old boy overcome his very real fear and concern of leaving the security of his wheelchair, letting volunteers and very talented equestrian handlers help him mount and supporting him as he took his very first horseback ride….on a former “wild horse” no less. After some completely appropriate nervousness during his ride he burst into the room of fellow campers waiting their turn and announced in perfect pre-teen boy bravado, “I did it. I rode a horse!”

I watched another camper’s chair get stuck on the ramp to the dock to fish. At first, he said, “We should turn around and not go fishing.” But then, he worked through his fear and concern and allowed counselors to help get his wheelchair over the barrier. Ten minutes later he caught a fish.

I watched another camper zip line for the first time. He too had to work through leaving the security of the wheelchair to allow others to put him into a harness to “zip over the abyss.”

Amazing. Important. Life-shaping. Memorable. These moments create a foundation for future “limit defying” actions.  We — you, our volunteers, donors and sponsors — are partnering with these kids to build their “limit defying muscles” that can be exercised and flexed throughout their life. Aren’t we fortunate to have such a privilege?

It is a privilege to me to witness such feats and to honor MDA families in my own way. While it does not compare one iota to what our kids and families do every day, one of the ways I challenge myself to #LiveUnlimited is by running endurance races with MDA’s Team Momentum.

To me, running is one way we can try to emulate MDA families’ strength, honor their determination, and demonstrate our commitment to struggle and fight through challenges.  Running with MDA Team Momentum is a wonderful platform for me.  The motto of Team Momentum is “Use your muscles to strengthen theirs.” I also believe MDA families’ strengthen mine.

That’s why I’m proud to once again join Team Momentum and run in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Denver, Colorado on October 16th. I will be dedicating my miles and race to my friend Joe Akmakjian, MDA’s first adult National Goodwill Ambassador and a Colorado resident, whose YOLO philosophy and embrace of independence will provide me with ample inspiration during my training and on the course.

MDA families often inspire me during races.  When I ran my first race for Team Momentum, the Dallas Half-Marathon in December 2014, thoughts of our former National Goodwill Ambassador Reagan Imhoff, as well her parents Jenny and Joe, helped propel me through very difficult miles in 86% humidity.

Endurance running can be a challenging endeavor. A lot of people think I’m nuts now that I’m in my 50’s.  But I believe that I get more out of it than I give. Running allows me time to think and ideate, to do something good for my mind and stay healthy for my family, and to get outside. Running for Team Momentum marries the benefits of running with the opportunity to support MDA’s mission. In the end, the total far outweighs the sum of its parts.

To get my training going, this Saturday, July 30, I’ll be running with Team Momentum in Chicago to celebrate MDA’s first Live Unlimited Run Day.  Will you join me in Chicago or wherever you live? It’s an opportunity for anyone, no matter your fitness level, to dedicate the miles you run, jog or walk to MDA families. It’s an occasion to remember that the abilities many of us take for granted, like walking, running and playing sports, are the very ones neuromuscular diseases often take away. And it’s a chance to celebrate the strength of MDA families who defy limits every day.