Tears welled up in my eyes last fall when I watched the NYC Marathon runners enter Central Park at 72nd street. It caught me off guard. Thinking about why this impacted me so much, I’ve realized that watching the New York City Marathon is a powerfully uplifting, thought-provoking, emotional experience.

The following summarizes my thoughts on why and introduces the very worthwhile cause I am running to support come November 6th.

People choosing a hard thing

All year, every day I learn about new violence and discord within and among nations. I begin to think, “Maybe this is the natural state of things? Maybe strife is inevitable.” History supports as much.

Then on this one fall day in New York City–a city that represents openness and new opportunity–over 50,000(!) very unique humans from almost every country on Earth with varied occupations, religious beliefs, values and sexual preferences come together with a common purpose: push their bodies to the limit!

Typically when people travel this far and spend this much money they’re on vacation and looking for relaxation. The marathon pilgrimage is just the opposite: here tens of thousands of people have decided they wish to dedicate their finite resources and energy to come to one of the most competitive cities to do something that is incredibly taxing.

This decision reminds me of the oft-repeated JFK speech to motivate the first moon mission: “We choose to do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard.”

And so despite the indolence or fear I observe day-to-day–in others and myself–the marathon renews me with this awe that humans are these tremendously brave, purpose-led beings willing to make very hard choices and follow through on them in an effort to grow.

It’s like this big challenge to show respect to the unsympathetic scientific principle of evolution that has necessarily killed to give us life. We run to say, “We’re worthy! We obey. Keep making us stronger.”

People coming together

The marathon also seems to challenge this notion that discord is inevitable. For a moment when you’re watching the runners come through Central Park I question my resignation over the seemingly persistent, global state-of-affairs: “Maybe we could figure out a way to bottle this up and spread it out over the whole year?”

This is what gets me choked up. It’s witnessing this highly uncommon, global unity.

Granted, I realize if everyone stopped running and started talking and discussing their views we’d probably have some issues crop up in short order but for a few hours we have, because of this vigorous activity, pacified the world!

It may sound corny but that’s the way I felt last year and that’s one reason I’m proud to be participating this year.

I’ve been running consistently for almost 20 years but this will be my first time competing in a marathon and will require me to significantly increase the intensity of my training but I’m excited about the challenge!

The Cause

I’m also excited I was given a chance to run by such an great organization doing such meaningful work.

I’m running to raise money to send seriously ill children to the Hole in the Wall Gang Summer Camp where they can be kids and have fun and not feel sick for a bit.

The camp was started by the late, legendary Paul Newman (one of my absolute heroes) and they do some very important stuff. Read more about them on their website. Note that unlike some charities they are also are very transparent about tracking and publishing their operating costs and have a great cost-to-benefit ratio so more of your contribution goes to actually helping kids.

I’ll maintain very fond memories of my own summers at a sports camp in New Hampshire for the rest of my life so I know the lasting impact being able to “raise a little hell” while your young can have. The Hole in the Wall Gang calls it, “a different kind of healing.” It’s hard for me to think of something more worthwhile than helping improve the quality of life for a child struggling with a serious illness.

The successful fulfillment of this fundraising effort will allow at least one sick child to attend camp.

Your support will also help my endurance over the next three months and will no-doubt elevate my spirits when I enter the hurt locker towards the end of the race on November 6th!

Thank you so much for your support!

Contribute to my campaign here! Any contribution is greatly appreciated!

Reess Kennedy’s Team! on Crowdrise