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Believe in the run

Carolyn Green | Monday, March 5, 2012

I don’t admit this to many people, but I often find myself up far too late watching old Nike commercials on YouTube. It’s seriously addicting — once you watch one video, you have to watch another, and another. By that point, you are feeling so motivated and inspired that you just want to go for a run. However, you can’t go for a run because it is too late, so you just keep watching videos. Also, the songs from the commercials make great additions to any race playlist.

On one recent such evening, I discovered an ad campaign for Nike Running, which employed highway signs as promotional pieces. The signs were the kind typically used to advertise construction zones, but instead of being placed alongside the freeway, the signs were used as mile markers for a marathon. When I read the sign marking mile 15, I immediately thought of the Holy Half. “Running never takes more than it gives back,” the sign read. “Believe in the run.”

Though we have the ability to run to Michigan and back, many of us do not venture into the greater South Bend community nearly enough. The Holy Half Marathon is an opportunity to train for and complete a 13.1-mile race, undoubtedly an amazing accomplishment in itself, but also an opportunity to give back to South Bend. One hundred percent of the proceeds generated by the Holy Half Marathon are donated to local charities. This year, the Holy Half will be sponsoring two charities: Hope Ministries and the St. Joseph County Public Library (SJCPL).

As Sarah Greenawalt, director of Community Outreach at Hope Ministries, puts it, “The participants, donors, coordinators and volunteers of the Holy Half are directly impacting the lives of men, women and children who find hope, healing and opportunity at Hope Ministries.”

Hope Ministries began in 1954 as Hope Rescue Mission in downtown South Bend. Now, it primarily operates out of the Family Life Center on Lafayette Boulevard where 18 families (including 30 children), 16 single women and 40 single men are offered free transitional housing. Hope residents are also offered addictions recovery, adult education, free meals, the Hope4Kids early childhood development and parenting program, spiritual development programs, counseling and life skills development. The programs at Hope Ministries are unique in their emphasis on Christian discipleship, grace and accountability, allowing residents to support each other, challenge one another when needed and to hold one another accountable in love.

Moving forward, Hope Ministries strives to strengthen its services to families and other under-served people in the community. In particular, Hope Ministries is in need of a new kitchen to continue to provide, prepare and serve nearly 300 free meals a day, every day of the year. In reference to the Holy Half, Greenawalt says, “The funds and awareness that are raised will allow vital services and programs to be offered to our neighbors in need, which can ultimately lead to lasting, life transformation. Thank you for your endurance and perseverance to run for us!”

The SJCPL also serves as an important community hub, providing technology, programming and materials to better enrich the lives of those who take advantage of the library’s resources. Jennifer Phillips, the communication executive at the library, says, “Our goals are always connected to our area’s needs. We strive to be cutting edge but still do our best to remain down-to-earth.”

For Phillips, it is not enough to simply be an organization frequented by the community. The library aims to use the resources they have to plant seeds in the community and truly make a difference in people’s lives.

“Our various locations — including our website — are always under consideration as far as what we can do better. For us, that is the essential question that allows us to grow and be relevant,” Phillips said.

Phillips and the SJCPL are honored to be a part of this year’s Holy Half Marathon. The recognition of the SJCPL as a beneficiary of the Holy Half helps connect the SJCPL to the community and validate that they are moving in the right direction.

“As an institution that works to better educate our surrounding areas we are so grateful to the University of Notre Dame and all those involved in this charitable function,” Phillips said.

When you run the Holy Half marathon, you run for more than yourself. Greater than any athletic accomplishment is the difference you will make to South Bend. As the Holy Half website states, “Run for good.”

I leave you with the words of another Nike ad, which quotes a poem by Robert Frost: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.”

Carolyn Green is the student director of the Holy Half Marathon. She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.