On Monday I sent Jen a message and said I had set the DVR and was planning to ride the bike in the evening while watching the Boston Marathon so I asked to know nothing about it. She said, "good luck getting home without hearing anything." To my surprise the news I heard was not how I had hoped to hear about the race. Instantly my thoughts were on how people could be so evil. Why are there so many people who do mean things? Thoughts and prayers go out to all those impacted by the attacks. Tuesday I was reminded that people are good...except a very small percentage of exceptions. I received news on Tuesday of a person who made an anonymous donation to fund an entire iHope gift this school year! I was so thrilled because I realize how this can be a life changing gift for a member of our community. I truly believe that the gift on an iPad to a student who doesn't have a whole lot but works tremendously hard and treats others with the utmost amount of respect and humility can change their life in a positive way. I believe that an iHope gift gives them more confidence. When life can appear to be hopeless living in difficult circumstances an iHope gift can provide the recipient with a major dose of hope that there are people out there who believe in his/her abilities. The confidence gained through this alone is invaluable. The letter that accompanies the iHope gift is very important because it details why the student was selected. It stresses how the way the student carries himself/herself has not gone by the wayside...that people see this and realize how important good character is. The mission of iHope is to provide low income students at Pleasant Valley Jr. High who display positive character traits and work habits with technological resources that will aid in academic achievement and success. I have already begun to see with the recipient from 2 weeks ago how it can aid in academic achievement. This recipient has a folder for every class on the iPad and uses it for class notes, assignments, and projects. When I began this iHope Foundation I didn't know what kind of support it would receive. While I have had the opportunity to get to know the students who receive iHope gifts and see how it affects them, people I call on to support the cause may never get to meet these individuals. It's much tougher to give to a cause when you don't know the people benefitting from it. I began this thinking it may end up being just me funding the iHope gifts through the start-up donation I made through money I was given from my grandma when she passed away and from my race winnings. I was optimistic that a couple businesses would contribute through sponsoring me with an iHope donation and that some friends, followers of this blog, and family members would contribute as well but I didn't realize how much support it would receive. The anonymous donation this week made me realize how great people are...how caring...how giving. I've been asked what the goal amount is for iHope. I would love to be able to provide gifts for the next 5 years or more for 2-3 students a year. The biggest "dream goal" if you will would be to grow the foundation to where we could endow it with 1 gift a year. To endow a $500.00 gift every year would require building the account to $10,000.00. At that amount the interest alone could provide 1 gift every year. To date iHope has received nearly $2,000.00 in contributions and I haven't even begun the race season. I'm super excited that every penny I win will be matched by my parents to be contributed to iHope. That motivates me to work harder, train smarter, and execute on race day so together we can potentially change a child's life for the better. If you would like to help grow this foundation you can click here to make a tax deductible donation. Nothing brightens my day more than getting an e-mail from our administration center notifying me of a donation received. Any amount brings a smile to my face :)
My fitness is improving every week. This was my 3rd week in a row running over 50 miles. My total training has been low by my past year's standards but I keep thinking about how I want to race my best in August, September, and October so I know the longer I can wait to begin training like crazy the later I will peak. I'm really excited by the improvements I've made on less training. Saturday I planned to participate in two "give back" events supported by Live Uncommon. They were both 5k races. The first was to benefit Project Renewal, an after school house for youth in Davenport who don't have a positive place to go after school. Project Renewal staff members help them with homework, keep them out of trouble, keep them active, and provide them with snacks. The 2nd was the Autism Awareness 5k to benefit the Autism Society of Iowa. My plan was to get 14 miles total with each 5k at a tempo effort. I ran the Run for Renewal comfortably in 18:15. When I got to the starting line of the Autism Awareness run I already had 10.5 miles in for the day but my competitive juices got flowing when I saw a bunch of kids from my class. The race started and finished on the track at our high school at Pleasant Valley and I decided to test myself to see how hard I could push with the first run and miles on my legs. I was shocked to run 16:02 for the 5k. It was a great boost of confidence and made me realize despite being 12 lbs. heavier than this point a year ago and training less I am making big gains. The biggest change is that I'm much stronger and my body is recovered well. Last year after running hard my hamstring would hurt bad until Dr. Kaminski worked his ART magic on it. This year I don't feel any soreness or tightness after hard efforts. I'm excited for the races to begin over the next couple months. Thanks for reading...and being great people who make positive differences in the world. DREAM BIG!