After spending the first 21 years of my life only running when chased, my senior college roommate and avowed cross country geek turned me on to running. And for the last 20 years of my life I’ve barely missed a day.
Maybe not so coincidentally, that senior year of college and transition to the ‘real world’ (a term I’ve always hated and am only using here to highlight the absurdity of it, as if one’s formative years are anything but real) created a social-change restlessness that eventually landed me in the field of corporate philanthropy.
Even before I had formal job responsibilities to change the world, I found myself constantly volunteering, serving on too many non-profit boards to be useful to any, and adorning my cubicle walls with pictures of everybody from Martin Luther King Jr. to Che Guevara.
So, on a recent run through my community, I got to thinking about an essay written by the late Dr. George Sheehan, a long-time columnist and medical editor for Runner’s World magazine. He came to running later in life too, but it literally transformed him, leading him to become the first 50 year-old to run a sub-five minute mile.
When I first read his piece titled “Why Do I Run?” I read it only as a runner. But as I read it again now, I find remarkable alignment of motivation, spirit and effect.
Just as Sheehan feels the urge to constantly run and identifies running is part of who he is, I now recognize that my entire persona is influenced by my citizenship. Through serving, I have learned what I can be and do. Though the race to change the world is restless, it’s also one we can win if we are committed to going the distance.
If you also share this passion for community engagement, I encourage you to learn more about some of General Mills’ philanthropic efforts. Or, check out organizations such as American Refugee Committee, which is currently doing critical relief work in Somalia. And, CARE, a leading international aid organization that’s defending dignity and fighting poverty around the world.
Whatever organization you choose to support, find a cause you believe in and join the race.