Wellness Challenge

April 6, 2011

No matter how small, it can be really big

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Runner Alene Reta runs through a water stop staffed by volunteers. Photo by U.S. Army Tim Hipps, FMWRC Public Affairs

One of my favorite shows is The Secret Millionaire. It’s in my top three along with Top Shot and Modern Family.  I like it because this show provides an opportunity for us to learn more about the millionaires and witness personal exchanges and growth associated with giving back. My favorite quote from a recent episode: “If you want to feel good about yourself, help someone else.”


However, you don’t have to be a millionaire to give back and you don’t always have to give money.

You can volunteer.

Last weekend, I volunteered at a cheer station for Team In Training at the Oakland Running Festival. It is a half marathon, marathon, relay, 5k and kid’s fun run. I did it because I know how important it is to have people cheering for you at every mile — especially when those miles get in the 20s.  I purposefully requested mile 22 of the marathon which was also mile 7 of the half marathon.

I, along with three other fabulous women, cheered our hearts and voices out!  And we cheered for all runners, not just Team In Training.

I know how hard mile 22 is, as well as the 4.2 miles that come after. I’ve run three full marathons and every single one of them was an accomplishment!  But what I remember most from running them was the words of encouragement from random strangers standing on the side of the street.  It is right around mile 22 and 24 when those exclamations of “you can do it!” and “awesome!” are needed most!  I needed them because I was always drowning in tears but hearing a “you’ve got this” helped to distract my self-doubting mind and focus on finishing.

No matter how small the gesture, it can have a really big impact!

I can only hope that my cheers, clapping, and exclamations “looking strong” helped distract runners’ from any of their self doubts. I know it did because every time I saw a runner struggling and I started cheering for him or her — they found renewal within to pick up the pace and keep smiling. I did!

April is National Volunteer Month.  Give back and give someone (and yourself) a big smile!


Resources to get you started:

All for Good
Habitat for Humanity
Stand Up For Kids
United Way
Volunteer Match

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6 thoughts on “No matter how small, it can be really big

  1. I am sure your shouts of encouragement helped motivate folks to keep on going! I agree…what may seem like a small gesture on our part can mean the world to someone else. This past weekend I volunteered for a local organization that serves individuals with brain injuries or intellectual disorders by doing a cooking demonstration of healthy options they could make in the residential homes using fresh ingredients from their garden. The smiles on the residents faces made the whole day worthwhile.

    1. Thanks Fran for the information! We’re going to try to volunteer more and with different organizations in our area. It is so easy and worthwhile! 🙂

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