Running For A Cause: The power of friendship

Posted May 29 2012, 9:22 am in , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m a runner.

I’m not particularly fast. I don’t set records or win races. But I’m a runner. And as such, I run for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes it’s for fitness. Sometimes it’s just for fun. Sometimes it’s to train for something bigger. Sometimes it’s to be social and catch up with friends. Sometimes I run to clear my head, to work through ideas and find inspiration. A few weeks ago I ran in order to try and process grief and let my emotions out.

On Sunday, I ran for a cause.

Ready to run!

I have this friend. I’m proud to call Deb* one of my best friends. She has had Type I diabetes for thirty years. And when she asked me to be part of a team this year to raise money for diabetes research and celebrate thirty years of NOT letting this disease get the best of her, how could I say no!? Along with twelve others, I fund-raised and trained.

Some of the group ran the 10km, some the marathon and some the half marathon. It didn’t matter. Together, we raised over $8000 and showed up to the start line on May 27 for a 7:00 AM start. (That right there is love!).

We all sported our crazy Team Diabetes shirts and as this run was a celebration for Debbie, some of us even donned bright red, yellow and black tutus. (Yes, even some of the men!)

We were missing some of the group for this shot. Eager to get to the start line…

For me, the day started with pain killers for some pulled shoulder and neck muscles. But the pain was soon forgotten as I got caught up in the spirit of the day. Besides, you don’t run on your shoulders, you run on your feet. And soon, I was in the groove and ready to aim for a time. For some in the group, this was their first 10km or half marathon, some were going for a personal best, some were just going for a run. It didn’t matter. Everyone ran their own race.

I crossed the finish line and was happy with my time. But I wasn’t happy with my finish.

I caught my breath, circled back and waited. I didn’t have to wait long, because there, coming around the bend, smile on her face, tutu flying in the breeze, was Deb.

I jumped in, and hand in hand, tears in our eyes, we ran the final stretch together. Celebrating!


Sunday wasn’t just about running. It was about friendship. For me, it was a day to be surrounded by amazing, positive, fun people. Some who put their fears aside and did something they said they would never do. Some who modified their goals and their own plans. But all of us came together in mutual support of a an amazing friend.


Have you ever participated in an event for a cause? Tell me about it. If you haven’t yet, I strongly encourage you to sign up. Push yourself from your comfort zone and give it a try. You won’t regret it!

*Deb’s story was the inspiration for my novel Sugar Crash



21 responses to “Running For A Cause: The power of friendship”

  1. Ahhmazing Elena – there’s nothing that feels quite as good as that! I’ve been involved in many runs/walks for different local organizations and it’s always immensely rewarding. Next week hubby and I will walk 5 KMs to raise awareness and funds for MADD Canada….and I can’t wait! There’s something about the pride of knowing you are supporting such a worthwhile cause with your efforts that uplifting and empowering!

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Thanks, Nat!
      It’s true… Running/walking/cycling whatever for a cause adds SO much more meaning to it!!

      Good luck On your event. I know it’s a cause near and dear to you. 🙂

  2. Trish Loye Elliott says:

    That is just sooo cool! That’s such an awesome thing you did with your friend. So glad you have running and friends like that in your life. $8000?! Wow. Amazing work you guys!

  3. nancymhayes says:

    Awesome Elena. Showing that kind of support for a cause is a powerful personal experience and inspiring for others ( like me.)

  4. Marianne says:

    Congrats on finishing and raising $8000! I cannot believe all you have accomplished and all you accomplish!

  5. Lisa Carlson says:

    What a great day, surrounded by great friends and running for a good cause! And your right… was all about friendship. I am a better person to have met you all. You have made me do many things I never thought possible…this half being one of them and I love you all because of it. Huge hugs to Deb for making an awesome and super fun training program…rarely did any of us “mess” with the schedule! You ladies got me through this and you can never know how much I appreciate this!! Huge goal for me was accomplished on sunday and I smiled all the way to the finish line. I was/am so proud to be a part of Team Diabetes and the fact that we raised over $8000 is amazing…..yeah us! Cannot wait to do it next year!!!

  6. sounds like a lot of fun and your group did a lot of good as well. double bonus

  7. ruadhgubrath says:

    I love your story, Elena! I have known Debbie since high school and even though we spent time apart, we have been able to reconnect. Her life and training adventures are such an inspiration. You asked if people had participated in an event for a cause and yes, I have. I ride in the MS Bike tour and I have missed only one in the past 12 years. I ride for my dad and my sister (both have MS). It’s amazing how much you can put into something when you know the impact it has on someone’s life…every single day…they can’t walk away from it and it is amazing when they hit it head on…like Debbie. Thank you for sharing the story from the run. It makes the world seem a brighter place with friends 🙂

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      You’re so right… An event is SO much more meaningful when you have someone in your heart while participating. Congrats on the MS ride! You are doing something amazing!

  8. Jenny Hansen says:

    I’m usually one to walk, but I might run if I got to wear those cute tutus! This is fantastic, Elena. 🙂 What a very inspiring post!!

  9. What a neat experience Elena! I love that you re-crossed the finish line with Deb. 🙂 I remember “rocking” for MS. Yep. My friends and I collected donations for every hour I rocked in a rocking chair. It was a great way to spend the day – chatting and rocking.

  10. Good for you! Your running always inspires me. Since my foot surgery, running is one of the few things my orthopedic surgeon says I cannot do (skiing is one of the others, my favorite winter sport. Boo!). BUT, I can walk, so I’ve decided next year I’m going to sign up for several walks, two of which are at Disneyland. Perfect!

    Keep running, my friend. You are such an amazing woman and have so much to give this world.

  11. Way to go, Elena and team! What a great day for such an important cause.

  12. […] ten years ago…heck, even six years ago, it was a VERY different story. But even now that running, swimming, cycling and other stuff too, have become such a regular part of my life, it still […]

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