This post was written by Cate Caldwell, an inspiring young woman from Australia who ran the 2014 New York City Marathon and raised over $1,900 for our Honorees’ programs.
Cate originally decided to support us while volunteering in South Asia. There, she met disabled children who were able to walk for the first time, thanks to Honoree Mead Welles and our funding of his program, A Leg To Stand On.
That experience inspired her to take on the challenge of running one of the most famous marathons in the world — despite chronic asthma — and raise money for children still in need of help. Read her story:
My decision to partake in the biggest marathon in the world was not one I came to easily. I have been a sickly human my whole life, a chronic asthmatic with lungs so useless that the entire world seems to be eyeing me with renewed caution at airports these days. Unfortunately this means that I spend my long-haul flights informing people that the air-con is detrimental to my lung function and that I do not, in fact, have a communicable disease.
I owe my pledge to run a marathon mostly to my parents, who have always encouraged me to exist outside my comfort zone. This is usually in the form of travel; of backpacking, nomadry and roaming sans solid direction. My childhood atlas is a battered tome, full of sticky fingerprints and penciled plans, my Mom would quiz me on obscure capital cities; my Dad would teach me languages.
I traveled a lot. I traveled to Turkey, where Kurdish street children, with their milky skin and light green eyes begged me to notice them. I traveled to Fiji, where my father grew up, and I was reminded just how much he’d given up to ensure his daughters had an education. I traveled to Vietnam, where the sheer weight of poverty bore down on every child’s shoulders, where parents would rather their kids sold molded scrap metal on the street than go to school. It was these children I thought of when I decided to run the New York City Marathon.
A marathon is 26 miles. For me, and my two useless lungs, it wasn’t easy. In fact, I’ve come to have a personal vendetta against mile 13. Mile 13 is neither here nor there. You’re too far away from the start line to go back and get on the shuttle bus, but you’re still another 13 miles from the finish. At mile 13, I thought my only friend was going to be the green inhaler clutched in my freezing fingers. Bless you, Old Faithful, and may you always be there to clear my airways.
As it happened, my savior was a Jewish woman who had just emerged with a tray of baked goods. I was shivering, shaking, stumbling, and somehow her warm hands and kindly face as she thrust a pastry into my hands spurred me on. A few miles ahead, a church choir emerged after Sunday service, and sang to us from the steps of their chapel. These people didn’t need to run for me, they didn’t need to physically tug me along, it was enough that they noticed me struggling, and that they cared.
I have traveled, and I have seen. I have admired the resilience of the human spirit; I have been astounded at the way that life can continue even in the most desperate circumstances. I cannot, however, ever fully grasp these plights. I can only speak from mile 13, where, with cramping lungs, the road in front of me seemed just too exhausting.
This brings me to World of Children, this incredible organization that I fundraised for as I took my running from Sydney, Australia to New York. World of Children is generous, they are far-reaching, they are selfless and they welcomed me into their family. In one night I watched them honor individuals making a difference from South America, to Africa, to Asia and back to the United States. For someone who has traveled this far and seen this much, there are no words to describe the relief that comes with not having to choose between supporting girl’s education in Africa or corrective surgery for impoverished children in Asia.
There are so many children in this world that exist in circumstances far worse than the metaphorical mile 13 of a marathon, and World of Children does more than reach out to them. World of Children exists to bring hope where there can be little. It gives children a reason to look ahead, and to not give up, and I will be forever grateful to be a part of that.
Want to start your own Crowdrise fundraiser like Cate? Get started by clicking here.