I've mentioned before how I've met some amazing people since I joined my running club and started to parkrun regularly. I've met tireless fundraisers like the lady who raised over £50,000 last year for bowel cancer research or the guy who ran 5km every single day for a whole year to raise money for a local hospice. I've also met people who are incredibly generous with their time and, often good runners themselves, selflessly give up their own runs to help other people reach their goals and to encourage them along the way. Running with other people has transformed my own running, but meeting some of these other runners along the way has been inspiring and regularly tops up my faith in humanity. In a small way, it's people like these that have inspired me to do more to help out myself. Helping a blind runner enjoy a parkrun every once in a while isn't that much of a hardship, to be honest - I enjoy spending time with Terry - but I suppose it's giving something back to a community that's been so good to me.
Lisa, one of the regular runners at my club approached me this week. She's another fundraiser and is raising money for a local shelter to help women and their children escape from domestic violence. It's a charity that's very close to her heart - a member of her immediate family was killed by an abusive partner - and as she got into the London Marathon at the sixth time of trying, she's got a site up and is raising money. Naturally, I made a donation. It's a small thing to do, right?
Although I'm fundraising myself, and although Lisa specifically asked me for the link to my page, I made the donation with no thought to getting one back for myself. That's not really what this sort of thing should be about. My donation had no strings attached.
Anyway. Lisa came up to me at running club on Monday to tell me that she'd had a chat with her partner and felt that neither of them could afford to make a donation to us anywhere near the size of the one that I'd made to her the other week. Well, of course that's completely fine..... but what she said next really floored me:
"I've got a day off on 13th April. As it's a running club night, are you alright if I arrange a cake sale here and give all the money we make to your charity?"
Bear in mind that this lady is chasing her own fundraising target for her own intensely personal charity, and here she is offering to give up her time and energy to raising money for me. I didn't really know what to say, but while I was rendered temporarily speechless, she went ahead and checked with the venue where we meet that it would be okay and gave me the thumbs up to say we're definitely on.
Lisa comes from a totally different background to me and clearly has a completely different set of challenges and priorities in her life. She's nothing like me and probably isn't the sort of person I would meet in the normal walk of life. In fact, if I saw her in the street or in a pub or something, I'd probably make some rather hasty assumptions about the kind of person that she seems to be.
But you know what? Those assumptions would be completely wrong.
How can you not be humbled by someone like that?
When plans change
3 days ago