Running a marathon for the first time...and raising awareness for a cause bigger than myself

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I decided to run a marathon...yep, it's a little crazy I know.

Of course, there are those weird people who run several marathons a year, or the even crazier people who run marathons after they swam 2.4 miles, and biked 112 miles. (I will do that too one day!)

So, running the marathon itself is not that big of deal. Right?

I mean, it's cool to say you did it I guess, and you have a sense of accomplishment, but I figured if I am going to run a marathon, then I want it to be about something bigger than me.

I decided to partner with an organization based out of New Zealand called Orphans Aid International. They have been around since 2004.

They have been sustaining their first orphanage they set up in May 2004. This started with four children. It very quickly grew to ten and since then has seen many more children placed in long-term fostering or adopted to loving families. One child returned to natural parents. The effectiveness of the work is growing. Orphans Aid International has received emails from parents who have adopted or fostered children expressing their thanks. Children are now at school who wouldn't have been, children have received surgery that needed it, children are now fed and given security, the poverty cycle is broken in these lives.

 
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i am running a marathon to raise money for orphans all over the world

BE A HERO

 

So why did I decide to do this?

I made a lot of bad choices in my life shortly after high school. Some of those choices led me down a path where I almost lost my life in Singapore when I was severely beaten by 3 locals. After that I began searching for meaning to my life. I started asking questions like "What am I here for?". 

When you start asking questions like that, and diligently looking for them, you will find the answer. 

The answer for me was: "Life is not about you, it is so much bigger." When I started taking the focus off of myself and my needs and wants, I was able to understand what life is all about. It's people.

There are all sorts of things that keep us from living a meaningful life, and a happy existence. Most of it, it "stuff". We have a lot things here in the USA to keep us occupied and chasing after more. 

We often take for granted that, while we may be worried if we are going to be able to make our dinner reservations, or make it to the movie on time. Halfway across the world, a child is trying to figure out how they are going to get their next meal, or if they have a place to sleep at night.

This isn't a guilt trip, it's just a flash of reality.

I think about this everyday of my life...I can't help it. If you have never been to a third world country, or anywhere outside of the USA, it is likely you have never experienced poverty quite like it.

Shortly after I was beaten up, I visited an orphanage. To be honest, I never wanted kids, or anything to do with them for that matter. What transpired changed the course of that.

The orphanage was quite an underwhelming spectacle. It was dingy and was clearly not receiving enough funds to help these children live a life that even remotely looked like a child's just outside those four walls.

I was ushered into a classroom where the children would be joining us shortly. Slowly the children filtered in through the back of the classroom. When they saw me, they just stared and started talking quietly and smiling. Then one little boy just climbed into my lap, wrapped his little monkey arms around my neck and lay his head on my chest. He didn't move for a whole hour. This moment changed my life. I immediately felt nothing but love for this child and all of the others. 

 
 

I spent the afternoon hanging out with them, playing on swing-sets and kicking a ball around. They all wanted to go home with me. Quite frankly, I wanted to take all of them, or at least stay with them.

I was in the US Navy at the time, so duty called. I visited several more times before I left Japan. 

I have spent the last decade of my life consumed by our culture once again, and lost sight of the bigger picture more than once.

This is an opportunity for me to do something that I vowed to do a long time ago. This is just the first of many feats that I plan on doing.

I am calling it the James Initiative, based on the scripture in the Bible.

 
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
— James 1:27
 

There is no end goal, other than to continue to push my limits with feats of endurance or seriously challenging events, all while raising money for charities and causes that I am passionate about.

The more that everyone gives, the more that I will push myself.

Will you answer one small question for me?

 

Man, I'm excited, I hope you are too.

I will keep you all updated on the next event.

- Stephen

P.S. Remember if you want to donate, go to EverydayHero, and make a world of difference. I appreciate your support.