Go GIVE Your Awesome: Running Miles for Charity

One of the greatest rewards I, Heather, have found through this running journey is sharing my passions with the world. You have been part of this journey, and I am humbled by your kindness, encouragement, and generosity. Which is why my podcast co-host, Jen and I have created the #GoGIVEYourAwesome Event.

The Idea — Jen’s Inspiration

After running the Chicago Marathon for charity, Jen was profoundly moved by her ability to have an impact on the lives of others through a simple act such as running. After Chicago was over, she felt like she still had more to give to others and wanted to do something else. But she was also blown away by the support she received since launching the Go Find Your Awesome Podcast. Jen realized she had a voice, and could do good with that voice. That’s when we came up with a great idea we’re calling…

Go GIVE Your Awesome!

What is “Go GIVE Your Awesome?” Well, the two of us are going to log the miles we run from November 1st to December 31st, 2019. For every mile we run we are each going to donate $1 to each charity we select. So if we run 100 miles, we will donate $100. If we each run 200 miles, we’ll donate $200. We’ve each picked charities that mean something to us. 

Jen — “I will be splitting my donation between World Central Kitchen and Make a Wish Foundation, and because I work for a company that matches donations, I’ll actually be donating $2 per mile since my work will double my donation. World Central Kitchen was founded by Jose Andres. You may know him from the restaurant that recently opened in Disney Springs, Jaleo. I’ve eaten at Jaleo in DC and Vegas and can tell you the food is amazing. But what I love about Jose Andres and World Central Kitchen is their commitment to providing food to those in need. They are focused on building “smart kitchens, training on clean cookstoves, creating jobs and strengthening local business. They’re first on the ground when natural disaster strikes to provide food to those in places like Haiti, Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria or most recently, the Bahamas. In Puerto Rico alone he served over two million meals in the first month after the hurricane. I mean, chef Jose was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for this work with World Central Kitchen… that’s the kind of impact this charity is having on the world.

The Make a Wish Foundation has a special place in my heart. I have two amazing stories that touched me personally. The first was when my best friend growing up was diagnosed with brain cancer at just 16 years old. It was awful. I vividly remember the support she received from Make a Wish and the Jimmy Fund combined. I remember going to her radiation treatment with her for support and then getting to go watch a special Red Sox game together. Her entire family got to go to Hawaii together and celebrate her life before it was cut short at the young age of 17. It meant so much to her family and they will always have those memories to remember her by. And more recently, I was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom one morning while I waited for some friends to arrive. I was in the Fastpass+ line for Avatar Flights of Passage and was behind a Make a Wish family. The Make a Wish child was in a wheelchair and his brother was a non-verbal autistic boy. This Make a Wish child kept asking me questions about the ride. He was nervous and had never been on this ride. We chatted getting ready for the ride and I eased his nerves so that he got excited to ride. As we were getting on the ride vehicles itself, the brother had a really difficult time with the ride and had to leave with the dad before it started. Yes, it took some time, but the Make a Wish boy was next to me and I enjoyed chatting with him. He loved it. After the ride, the parents tried apologizing to me about the delay and all sorts of things. But I put my hand on the mother’s shoulder and told her, “you’re doing a great job mom.” She nearly broke down in tears. You could tell she was dealing with a lot but that this trip and those simple words meant the world to her. So for that, and every other similar story, I will always support Make a Wish.”

Touching Lives — Heather’s Inspiration

I will also be giving to two organizations: The Brave Like Gabe Foundation, and Tunnel to Towers. 

The Brave Like Gabe Foundation was created by pro runner Gabriele “Gabe” Grindelwald after she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Her passing in June of this year moved many of us to give back and celebrate her life. Her foundation aims to “support rare cancer research and empower all cancer survivors through physical activity.” That the foundation has ties to sport is something that is close to my heart, but the rare cancer research is another aspect that hits me right where I live. 8 years ago, on my son’s 3rd birthday, my best friend, Teresita lost her battle with adenocarcinoma — a rare lung cancer that is relentless and aggressive. She was young, 38 years old, and tough, with a faith that I could only hope to have. She never wavered in her hope, and I never stopped believing that she would fight all the way to the end. Cancer sucks. My life hasn’t been the same without her, and I miss her everyday. So $1 for every mile I run will go to the Brave Like Gabe Foundation.

The other charity I’ve selected is the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. 18 years after 9/11, many families are still struggling financially after the loss of a loved one. Tunnel to Towers helps these families by paying off the remaining mortgage on their homes. I was on an airplane that morning, completely unaware of what was happening until after I got back in my car to drive home. The most moving aspect of that day was the sacrifice of the first responders.  I will be donating $1 for every mile to the Fallen First Responder Home Program, which supports the families of first responders killed in the line of duty.

Take Part

We all have causes that are near and dear to us. We want to hear what you care about. And we want to challenge you to take part in GO GIVE YOUR AWESOME this November and December. This is a wonderful time of year to give back, and while we are donating monetary resources, we know that not everyone can make that kind of monetary commitment. So we would ask you to take a look at what you CAN do, and for whom. If you feel a monetary donation fits for you, then share our hashtag on you social media feeds with your commitment and charity of choice.

This is a hard time of year for many people in many ways. We hope that you will use #GoGIVEYourAwesome as motivation as we get into the colder months. When you’re struggling to get out of bed in the morning to go for that run, this gives you a new kind of why. Join us in this challenge to give back and let us know you’re participating by using the hashtag #GoGIVEyourAwesome on Instagram and Twitter. It’s going to be so rewarding.

Our question for you is this: How will you participate? Please let us know in the comments, and share this great event with your friends using #GoGIVEYourAwesome

Heather Jergensen

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