Monday, January 17, 2011

World Vision and Venice Beach

I collected 13.1 more miles yesterday morning.  I ran the World Vision Half Marathon in Santa Monica.  World Vision is an incredible organization that gives us a chance to make a difference in the lives of children in third world countries around the world.  I first learned about World Vision as a child because my parents would support a child.  For twenty dollars a month, it is possible to actually pay for an entire month of a child's food (I don't know about your grocery shopping, but twenty bucks wouldn't even get me through a week here) and education.  I remember as a child reading the hand-written notes that our little boy in Ethiopia would send us, thanking us for giving him the chance to learn about Jesus and meeting his medical needs.  I don't mean this as a plug for the organization, but if you ever feel a pull to make more of a difference in the world, why not start with one needy child?

Running along the boardwalk and Venice Boulevard with thousands of other runners, I was again reminded of one of the things I love about running - the sense of community I instantly feel with people I have never met before.  Something about putting in the work and dedication to prepare for, and the perseverance to finish a sporting event like this  bonds us all together.  I can't tell you how many times I heard my name cheered for from other runners along the route (my name was on my bib, or tag, that I wore pinned to my shirt) and surprisingly, even from the homeless people lined up along the side of the road, all their belongings in stacks or shopping carts beside them.  Seeing these people, with so much less than I have, content to cheer for a stranger running by touched my heart. 

Afterwards, exhausted and with tight leg muscles and blisters, we walked down the beach, by the shops selling "medical marijuana" (wouldn't it be "medicinal"?), henna tatoos and the real thing, beaded bracelets and artwork, I watched the people around me.  There were people from all walks of life, young and old.  The exhausted runners like myself, making their way to their cars to drive back to their middle-class lifestyles, volunteers who worked the charity event, tourists and vacationers playing volleyball on the beach, surfers, the hippie-types selling their art, the drugged-out and the mentally ill transients, and those who live that lifesyle by choice.  Sometimes it's good to get out of my corner of the world and see other parts of it. 

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