In addition to inspiring our team members and potential future runners, he hoped to encourage our young people to set goals and push their limits. Running, especially distance running like marathons, “is all about going out of your comfort zone,” Harding said. Whether teammates or youth, Harding wants people to understand that it is not failing to fall short of a goal that is set high. “I wanted them [our kids] to see that,” he said.
Harding was joined by more than 30 young people during various stages of the event, including seven young women who joined from the Walsh Campus. One of our young people had recently taken up running to improve his overall health and well-being and managed to complete about 11 miles, far longer than his previous longest run.
“I hope the kids were inspired to see this guy who hobbled around for two months on a peg-leg crutch earlier this year out there running for 6 ½ hours,” Harding said. “That with hard work and dedication, you can turn around what looks like an awful situation and do something great from that place of pain.”
Several others helped Harding stay on course, especially those who joined him in the late laps as night fell in the West Loop. He was also encouraged by others who ran at points, as well as a large contingent of fans in our courtyard. With Fr. Scott, coworkers, youth, and family, and friends making plenty of noise each time runners passed, the scene resembled a miniature version of our annual “Rockin’ Race Day” marathon cheer station.
“It was an amazing evening. I never ran a lap alone. We had so many coworkers, kids, Heroes, business people from the West Loop and friends that joined me for anywhere from one lap to 30. It was truly a team effort. It was so great to see everyone rally together for our kids.”
Thanks to everyone who helped coordinate the effort and to those who donated to the cheer station atmosphere, including Morgan Street Café, who provided coffee and cake; K-Love radio Chicago (94.3FM), who provided music; CARA, (Chicago Area Runners Association), who provided water and Gatorade; Big River Race Management, who tracked every runner; and Fairlife, who donated milk for the youth and the runners.