This St. Patrick’s Day, my town wore green, dressed up like leprechauns, drank Guinness, and… ran a half marathon.
I cheered them on. There is no way anyone can convince me to run a race, especially anything over a 5K. So I filled up water cups, clapped, rang cowbells, and hollered encouragement to these thousands of runners who had committed their St. Patrick’s Day morning to running 13.1 miles to raise money for our local homeless shelter.
After my volunteer shift was over, I headed downtown to the finish line. Dozens of my friends were down there, and we all enjoyed a pint together while we waited to hear the winners announced.
Halfway through my Guinness came my gratitude source for today. The race director called up his fiancee, who just so happens to be the volunteer coordinator of the homeless shelter that was the race’s beneficiary. In years past, the race had raised one or two thousand dollars for local non-profits. However, the race was recently listed in Runner’s World magazine, causing interest (and therefore race registrations) to spike.
“I’ve got a check here for this great local charity,” the race director said, reaching behind him for an oversized foam check. “Looks like you all stepped up this year, because it’s for ten grand.”
His fiancee burst into tears, happy, happy tears for everything that money could do for the homeless families her organization serves in our town. The crowd went wild, and at least half of us had happy tears swimming in our eyes as well.
So I’m grateful for Guinness and whiskey, sure. But I’m even more grateful to be part of a community that will run tens of thousands of combined miles to make sure everyone has a home.