Run for yourself or run for someone who can’t

When asked why I run, initially my reasons would have been very selfish – for my health and sanity!  I had always been a fair weather runner, cycles of commitment based on the season of the year, what was going on in my life and never more than a 5K until life happened.

Run for LiamIn 2011 my husband passed away unexpectedly and my world changed.  I realized that taking care of me was important and that I could run.  Another benefit of running included that on days when I felt emotionally weak I knew that I was physically strong which made grief more bearable!  Fast forward four years and my life has changed.

I have remarried and spend my days with my biggest cheerleader and a blended family of five children.  Life is good!  I have discovered that I am stronger than I ever believed and I can run marathons, and my reason for running has shifted.  I belong to a wonderful group, I Run 4 Michael.  The mission of I Run 4 Michael follows:

You can run for me anytime!”

A simple phrase that sparked a movement.

We all have friends who say, “Run some for me,” because they don’t WANT to run.  But what about those who can’t run for physical or developmental reasons?  Having been inspired by a close friend battling bilateral hip dysplasia, Founder Tim Boyle discovered a whole new inspiration to run.

Run for LiamHere at IR4, we foster relationships.  We want to see runners and buddies alike experience the profound power of encouraging and being supported by people who were once perfect strangers.  Running can just be about health.  Or it can be about dedicating our miles to and creating awareness for our buddies with special needs whose conditions span the spectrum from total physical disability to developmental delays to autism spectrum disorders, as well as myriad rare conditions we’re only now learning about thanks to our participation in IR4.  You can find more at: http://www.whoirun4.com/

I read the stories of runners and buddies and knew instantly that this was something I wanted and needed to be involved in, so I signed up for a buddy.  After six months of waiting, I was blessed to get a buddy whose smile melts my heart.  Liam is three years old but by the time I run the Waddell and Reed Kansas City Marathon he will be almost four, so I am celebrating his birthday by running a marathon for him!  My buddy, Liam, has Wolff Parkinson White, which makes it a struggle for him to gain weight.  He does not vocalize or have unassisted mobility.  Liam has been enjoying pool therapy and is learning to use a walker so that someday we can finish a race together.

Run for LiamSince being matched with Liam I have ran in the Disney Princess Half Marathon as CinderDella running for Prince Liam.  Liam loved his Mickey Mouse ears!

I have also ran several half marathons in Missouri and dedicated my miles and medals to Liam.  Liam enjoys getting medals in the mail!

One of my proudest moments as a runner and running club coach came when my running club kids in Montgomery County, Missouri dedicated their miles in the GO! St. Louis Read, Right & Run Marathon to Liam.  My students are awesome and get what it means to be a runner – you are also an encourager for others.

It amazes me that someone I have yet to meet can take up a big part of my heart, but Liam does that!  On race day my legs will be running in Missouri, but my heart will be in Katy, Texas with my running buddy!  If you want to make a difference in your health become a runner, and if you want to enrich your life and the life of others become an I Run 4 member and run for someone who can’t!  As for me I will be running for Liam!


By Della Bell-Freeman, 2015 Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon participant