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#GivingTuesdayNow is almost over. Only a few hours left to help our families affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Gifts made today will be matched up to $50,000 thanks to the generosity of a dedicated group of employees at William Blair and its matching gifts program.
Mercy Home Heroes Spotlight: Bree Hughes
The 43rd Bank of America Chicago Marathon was supposed to be Bree Hughes’ first attempt at 26.2 miles. She’d gone to cheer on friends and family in the past, but never thought she’d be the one crazy enough to run the race herself.
Unfortunately, for Hughes and thousands of other runners, the Chicago Marathon has cancelled for just the second time in its history this year. COVID-19 has forced the world to come together to focus on health and safety above all else. But running has not been cancelled, and for Hughes, it has served as an outlet during the pandemic.
“I think this is one of the only things that you really can physically focus on,” she said.
Throughout her life, Hughes has always stayed active, including playing lacrosse in college. But she never really cared for running. That changed when a close friend nearly lost her life three years ago.
I think this is one of the only things that you really can physically focus on.
While backpacking through Yellowstone National Park, Hughes’ friend suffered a massive seizure. She discovered she had a brain tumor and a tumor on her spine. In just one year, she had to learn to walk again three different times. To support her friend, Hughes turned to running.
“We just started doing these 5k’s, 10k’s, 15k’s – just to try to raise money and awareness,” Hughes said. “I’m terrible with asking people just outright for funds, so I figured if I was running at least there be would be something they could donate to… She’s the reason I started running.”
Hughes soon started to hit her stride. With a good playlist and the focus of putting one foot in front of the other, she found the runner’s high. Eventually, she completed her first half marathon.
“After that I got some confidence and decided – why not try a marathon?” Hughes said. “I love Mercy Home and put two and two together and it seemed like a pretty good idea.”
Hughes was first introduced to Mercy Home several years ago when she volunteered at Have Mercy! – the annual spring gala put on by our Associate Board. She appreciated the mission so much that she decided to become a part of it and join the board.
I love Mercy Home and put two and two together and it seemed like a pretty good idea.
Having taught at a not-for-profit school in Chicago where many children struggled with difficult living situations, Hughes found Mercy Home aligned with her own values. During her time on the Associate Board, she has enjoyed the opportunity to interact with our kids and see the impact Mercy Home makes in their lives.
Though Hughes has already made her own impact on our kids’ lives through her volunteer work and commitment to the Associate Board, she kicked it up a notch this year by joining the Mercy Home Heroes team.
But being a Hero isn’t easy, and Hughes is pushing herself through the brutal summer humidity to keep up with the 18-week training plan. And though her first marathon won’t quite go as planned this year, the mission of Mercy Home keeps her going.
“There’s still these kids who have these needs and are still getting help through Mercy Home,” she said.
“That’s still a very tangible thing and the problems don’t just disappear because of COVID – if anything it’s making it more difficult. I think that’s a pretty big motivator – you just have to not forget why you started something like this.”