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Longtime Hero Combines Passion for Running and Making a Difference

Longtime Hero Combines Passion for Running and Making a Difference

There are lots of different ways to fundraise, and Maddie Roglich tends to go for the creative ones. 

In the past, she offered fun giveaways for donations, including guitar picks with her face on them, in exchange for donations. But in 2020, she really outdid herself. When the Bank of America Chicago Marathon was canceled due to COVID-19, Maddie and her boyfriend, Alec Dean, who is also a Mercy Home Hero, decided to complete the 26.2 miles in a different way: by hiking the Grand Canyon rim to rim and back.

“It’s almost exactly 26.2 miles,” she explained. “It was effectively a marathon in a day, but it was a marathon through backpacking. So it was hard in a very different way, [but] it felt like a really cool way to see a lot of [the Grand Canyon].”

It was a welcome change of pace for Maddie, who’ll be doing her sixth marathon with Mercy Home in October. In fact, Maddie is a seasoned marathoner, first running the marathon in Chicago seven years ago with another charity. For her second marathon, she decided to switch up charities and found our Home. Our mission resonated with her, and the experience she had has kept her coming back since.

“In addition to the clear impact I feel like I’m having, I think it’s a really special experience,” she said. “I think being able to run by Mercy Home during the marathon is the coolest moment during the entire thing. That really moved me … not only do I want to stay, but I think it would make it really hard to leave.”

Now that Maddie has run Chicago more than five times, she has earned legacy status and no longer needs the entry provided by Mercy Home to run. Even so, she has no plans to leave.

“I still feel passionate enough that I want to run with Mercy Home, even though I don’t necessarily need the entry,” she explained. “So I think that just speaks to the great work Jim [Harding, the Heroes coordinator] puts in and [how] wonderful it is to hear and see how we’re able to impact everyone who lives at Mercy Home or uses the services that Mercy Home provides..”

Maddie enjoyed her experience so much that she encouraged Alec to join her. They have since run two marathons together and that has continued to enhance her experience.

“It’s just so helpful,” she said. “It keeps you going. It’s quiet, unspoken encouragement that lasts the whole time. It’s definitely helpful and motivating.”

Despite the number of marathons she’s run, it may surprise you to know that Maddie didn’t begin running until she started college. An athlete growing up, Maddie tore her ACL playing basketball her senior year of high school. She began running as part of her rehab.

“I wasn’t confident enough in my knee to be able to play basketball, so I would just spend a lot of time running,” she said. “Fitness is super important to me, and it was my way to do cardio without being nervous about tearing my ACL again.”

When Maddie’s roommate mentioned it would be cool to run a marathon, it resonated with her newfound passion. 

“I’m not super fast or anything like that, but it filled a hole in my life at the time.”

For those considering running with Mercy Home in the future, Maddie has some words of wisdom: you won’t regret it.

“I think it’s a really special personal challenge, but what makes it all the more special is that it’s such a great experience [and] you can see the impact, you can see the smiles on the faces of the people at Mercy Home. And I think Jim and the team do a really great job of keeping us connected to the cause. [We’re] able to impact Mercy Home by being part of the team.”

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