Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Race Reflection: Olivia Engel

My race with Olivia was an emotional day.  The race director of the Great Pumpkin Classic knew that I was planning to be there that day and knew of my efforts to run for those we lost in Sandy Hook.  So, with that in mind, he kindly made an announcement at the start of the race that I was there and explained to people what my effort was.  People starting clapping and whistling and it was very overwhelming.  People near me began to approach, pat me on the back, hug me and congratulate me on my efforts.  My son was with me that day, "running" along my side in the jogging stroller.  Just before the race began, he asked me, "Momma, why is everyone hugging you?"  And luckily, I didn't have to answer because the horn went off and the race began and he was captivated by all the activity that had started up around him.  I was thankful for the distraction, because I didn't trust my voice to hold steady after the show of support from perfect strangers.

Perfect strangers.  That's a term that I have found the true meaning to in all of this.  Throughout this project I have met the most amazing people.  Selfless, giving past the point of reason, honorable, compassionate.  They are perfect.  In every sense of the word.  I think that I could have easily gone through life bitter and sad and angry about what happened at Sandy Hook.  I could have allowed it to take away a part of my typically positive outlook on life.  Allowing the bad to take away your good is the scary part of fight back against tragedy.  Allowing the bad to take that away would have redefined me as a person.  Who I am as a mother to my son.  As a wife.  A daughter.  A sister.  But on days like Olivia's day, these Perfect Strangers forced me to remember that we should always do what we can to lift each other up.  To support each other when there is good to be done.  That the good people in this world will always out weigh the bad.  And those good people will reveal themselves to you when you really need it.  They will find a way to pull you back and remind you why the good is worth fighting for. 

Can I ask a favor please?  If you are doing random acts of kindness this month, or any month, make one of those acts the simple task of saying something uplifting and unexpected to a complete stranger.  A word of encouragement.  A small amount of praise.  Something to let a Perfect Stranger know that you noticed them and that they matter.  Because on Olivia's race day, there were people that gave that to me.  And I will forever associate Perfect Strangers with Olivia and the impact that kind words can have when they come from someone you have never met before.


Here is Olivia.  My original perfect stranger and my 21st angel.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

FINAL Race Announcement: Josephine Gay

On Thanksgiving day, I will be running the Turkey Trot for Josephine Gay.  This will be my final race for this project before switching over to the Running for Angels Project.  I would love to see you all out there that day as I wrap up this journey that has been going on for just shy of one year.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  Enjoy the blessings around you on that day and remember those who are missing someone at their table this year.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Race Reflection: Anne Marie Murphy

Back in early October, I ran the MarcUS for Change race out of Stamford for Anne Marie.  It was another one of those races that just seemed to fit.  The races name, MarcUS for Change, embodied so many of the hopes that we have for this world, post December 14th.  The race itself was for a young man that had passed away before his time.  The races proceeds were headed off to help the Stamford Education system which I'm sure Anne would have approved of.  Add to it that a good friend of mine, along with her beautiful daughter, decided to run it by my side, made the day even nicer.

There are some races where people approach me directly when they read my shirt and they reach out to say a kind word based on the name that I am wearing.  There are other races where people shy away, unwilling to approach for one reason or another but I can hear them speak about the person I am running for as they pass along behind me.  My race for Anne Marie went that way.  Maybe it was because I was surrounded by a large group of teachers so they especially would be tuned into the name I bore on my back. But all I could hear behind me the whole day was, "That's Annie Marie Murphy from Sandy Hook.  She died trying to save the children."

I must have heard that whispered behind me a dozens times, if not more, that day.

It filled me with so much joy to listen as people read my shirt and remembered.  And what an honorable way to be remembered- leaving this world in an attempt to save the lives of children.  Again, it solidified the purpose of this project for me.  I was so happy to hear people remembering the adults for the heroes that they are.

When children are taken from us too soon, it's an easy thing to remember.  Their names, their images are burned into our brains because the injustice is just far too great to comprehend.  I always worried about the adults.  I never wanted their memories to get lost in the shuffle.  That race that day, helped me to understand that big or small, not one of the 26 are forgotten.  We feel their loss equally and all of their names are forever etched onto our hearts.

There was a lot of joy the day of that run.  I have a suggestion.  If you've never taken a run along side a 5 year old child before...try it.  It's more fun then I could ever hope to explain and it transports you back to your childhood, playing along side your friends.  In Anne's name, we ran, we giggled, we played and we crossed the finish line, piggy back style, as a team.  We smiled for her and I hope she was smiling down on us.


Here is Anne Marie Murphy.  The 20th angel I have now run for.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Race Announcement: Rachel Davino

This Saturday I will run for Rachel Davino at the Hot Coco 5k in Cheshire which benefits the Abilities without Boundries Foundation.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


With my 26 races coming to an end (two left to go), I began to think about what the next phase of this project could be. I didn't want to finish the 26 races and then have it be over. So this is what I've come up with.....


My friends and I have designed a new tshirt and it has been loaded into Cafepress for you to order (
http://www.cafepress.com/runningforangelsproject). What I am asking is for people to purchase the tshirt, pick ONE race (only one NOT 26 unless you're some kind of maniac) and run/walk that race wearing the tshirt that honors all 26 loved ones that we lost on December 14th.

I'm calling it the "Running for Angels" Project.

On the day of your race, I ask that you take a picture of yourself in the shirt and then email it to RunningForAngelsProject@gmail.com where I will take it and then upload it to my blog site and facebook page. (Once I am done with my 26 races, I will be updating the name of my blog and this facebook page to reflect the new project)

The goal is to get as many people as possible from across the country to wear this shirt in a race so that the people running around them see the names and remember those we lost.

All proceeds from the purchase of the tshirts will go directly to "My Sandy Hook Family Fund" which is a fund endorsed by the families directly impacted by the events of December 14th.

You don't need to be fast. You don't need to be experienced. I don't care if you participate in a 1k or a marathon, I just want you to try. And I promise you this....it will make your heart feel good.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Race Announcement: Noah Pozner

On November 9th, I will be running the Pilgrim Road Race in Middlebury, CT for Noah.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Race Reflection: Benjamin Wheeler

I'm reflecting back on my run for Ben today.  Honestly, the first thing that comes to mind when I think back on that day is the fact that it was, hands down, the hardest race of my life.  You name it, it happened.  Rain, hail, thunder, lightening.  And best of all...the race was entirely up hill.  No really.  Entirely up hill. 

I was writing this race reflection in my mind the entire time that I was running.  I felt like I was having a dialog with Ben the whole time I was out there.  Reacting and jumping to every clap of thunder.  Wiping away the rain from my eyes.  Shielding myself from the hail.  "This sucks, Ben."  I was saying in my head.  "I can't believe they didn't call this race off.  This isn't even close to safe."  A car drove past me on one stretch, splashing me from a puddle as they went.  I felt the curse words rise in my throat when suddenly they were replaced with laughter.  I shook my head, laughed out loud, and spoke to Ben again.  "You better appreciate this birthday present buddy!"

I ran for Ben on his birthday.  Stars aligned and some how, I was able to find a road race on his birthday, which fell on a Thursday.  In what universe does someone plan a road race mid week?  It never happens.  And the fact that there was one for me to run, makes me believe that I had a little extra help, yet again. 

I almost gave up that day.  I almost didn't run.  No one would have blamed me for rescheduling- that night was a bear.  But then I thought, "I bet the Wheelers have days where they would just love to give up.  I bet they have days where they don't feel like they can fight another battle."  But they do.  The Wheelers have dedicated their lives to making Ben's story impact the world.  To working towards a world where parents never have to say goodbye to their children ever again for a reason like this.  Have you ever heard them speak?  They are incredible.  They are so moving and so strong that you just know that they are driven by something incredibly powerful.  And you don't doubt for a second that Ben sits behind them, encouraging and pushing them to fight another day.  Helping them to right this wrong in whatever way is possible.

Every clap of thunder and each bolt of lightening that night felt like a battle cry.  It felt like a deep roar of victory.  A reminder that there is a movement happening right now that will make this world a better place.  A safer place for our children. And it pushed me on to battle for one more step up that mountain.

People like the Wheelers are leading a charge and I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to them for the strength and resilience that they show us all every single day.  Thinking about what they battle every day....well.  That makes a silly little hill in the rain look pitiful.  And I'm in awe of them and their fighting spirit.

Ben.  You have incredible parents that will continue to fight for you every day for the rest of their lives.  You are being honored by them and your community will stand shoulder to shoulder with them every step of the way as they persevere.   Thank you for holding my hand that day and running along my side.  I never would have made it had you not laughed along with me as I ran. 

P.S- I had a brownie in your honor that night when I got home.  Your dad told me that they are your favorite.  XOXO


Here is Benjamin Wheeler.  The 19th angel I have now run for.