Friday, October 7, 2011

Running for Pearl

I met Malcolm (Mally) McLoughlin, like a lot of my Parisian running friends, on Daily Mile.  This site has really been the gateway to a lot of fantastic relationships for me both in the "real" and "virtual" world.  But, more and more I've been able to connect with these guys and share runs, races, and coffees together face-to-face.

Mally and I became real friends quickly.  I remember our first lunch together in Viroflay talking running and ultras and minimalism and his crazy attempt at running the length of Ireland (570 km) in a week. Relationships are nearly impossible to define because describing why you "like" someone or are friends with them is much the same as describing why pizza sounds so good the evening after a long run or why jazz music is so transcendental.  Sure, there are measurable realities like shared interests, experience, or beliefs, but much of friendship is subjective.  You just kind of "click" or you don't.  It was clear to me early that Mally and I would really be friends.  We both walked away from the lunch inspired and motivated not only to run faster/farther but to be better people.

One of the most inspiring things about Mally is his relationship with his daughter.  Pearl, named after a certain magnificent rock band, is autistic.  So, like any kid with a bit of a disability, there are challenges for her and for her family on a daily basis.  Mally is not content with just surviving but wants to give her the best opportunity to succeed in life, and he feels that way about other autistic children and their respective parents.  Because of this commitment and passion, Mally started an organization called Running for Pearl ( a few years ago to raise awareness and support for those affected by autism.  He's raised quite a bit of money as well as created a support network for many who haven't yet gotten the help they need.

As a pastor, my job is to encourage the spread of the kingdom of God.  This happens in many ways, but I believe, is always connected to the heart and love of God through Jesus, which I have seen in Mally's commitment and pursuit of support for his own daughter and those affected by autism.

This is why I have decided to run my non-club races as part of the Running for Pearl team.  I went out, bought a jersey, got the organizational logo from Mally, had it imprinted and then started publicizing.  It's actually very easy.  I wore the jersey for the first time at my half-marathon in Vincennes where I was proud to PR in 1:16:15 as a member of his team.  I will also be trying to run sub 2:45 in Toulouse for my upcoming marathon as a Runner for Pearl.

There is nothing crazy about this commitment or partnership except that it involves a very special little girl and her great dad.  I would love to encourage all of you who run regularly to think about partnering with a group that excites you and can make a difference in the world.  Ryan Hall's Steps foundation is a great example but there are countless others.

For me, running is intensely personal. It's selfish in many ways in terms of how much time I spend training and preparing, but when it comes to race day, I like to think I can be running for someone else as well.  Personally, that always involves dedicating every action to God but it's also fun to make a tangible impact for others.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have interest in joining the Running for Pearl team or if you'd like advice on other opportunities to use this great sport for a great cause.


Malcolm said...

I am incredibly moved to know you and to anyone who is involved in your life is beyond lucky. You are the embodiment of true, caring friendship and the support you have shown me always is beyond the words I write here. Thank you for being you and for Running for Pearl.

Greg Strosaker said...

Great post Tim, as you know I am in a similar position to Malcolm and someday hope to direct more of my running efforts towards causes supporting autism. For now, most of my energy and focus is on specifically getting my son the therapy from professionals and at home that he needs, but as he matures, I hope to find a good outlet for these energies through perhaps even organizing a local event in support of autism education. Thanks for sharing Malcolm's story and for your own support of his cause.

iRunParis said...

Greg, thanks for your comment. I, of course, in no way want to make others feel guilty, especially those in your position. In fact, this post probably could use an edit to say that each one does what he or she can. You are obviously doing a ton right now for your son and the organization of something public in the future is a great idea. I also think it bears saying that my own education about autism has grown from meeting Pearl, reading your blog, and then doing some personal research myself. You are already a hero Greg, hope you didn't feel chastised unnecessarily in a post like this that is linked to something you live with on a daily basis.

Greg Strosaker said...

Tim, I felt no offense whatsoever, and didn't mean it to come across that way. I am perhaps oversensitized to this topic by having met one individual (you may know him on DM, let me know if you want to know more) who ran 60 marathons last year to raise funding for his autism research. All the while leaving his wife to deal with his own autistic son, younger even than mine. And I thought, "does this guy have his priorities right?" Now maybe he just knows he's not personally capable of working effectively with his son and his wife is. But I have trouble picturing being in such a position and then leaving town every weekend, basically, as the coping mechanism.