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Mercy Home Heroes Spotlight: Mendy Springer
Mendy Springer is one of the “regulars” in the 2020 Mercy Home Heroes Facebook group. She not only shares her own training tales, she sends words of encouragement to keep her fellow runners motivated. After picking up and moving 2,000 miles across the country, the Heroes team has helped provide the sense of community she was seeking.
Springer works in commercial insurance, and when a promotion came her way several years ago, she decided to take it. She and her husband grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and the promotion took them from Portland, Oregon to Chicago. When she first arrived, she didn’t know a soul.
To stay active, she started doing workout classes at Orangetheory Fitness. She’d tried running before, but it wasn’t really her thing. At Orangetheory, she struggled to complete a 28-minute session on the treadmill.
But when Mercy Home Heroes Coordinator Jim Harding came to one of her classes and shared the opportunity to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for Mercy Home, she was intrigued. It wasn’t just about running the marathon for Springer; it was about finding a charity that she believed in and building the sense of community that she needed.
“It was kind of everything tied into one,” she said.
When Springer started learning more about Mercy Home, it didn’t take long to realize it was the right charity for her. Growing up, her parents did foster care for as long as she can remember. Her oldest sister came to their family as a foster child, and eventually, her parents adopted her. The mission of Mercy Home was something Springer understood and could get behind.
“It’s really that the kids are provided this forever family; this forever support,” Springer said. “It’s privately funded, and you aren’t going to age out of this system.”
Everything seemed to make sense to her and she decided to become a Hero for our kids. In the blink of an eye, she went from struggling to complete a half-hour treadmill workout to signing up to run 26.2 miles.
It’s really that the kids are provided this forever family; this forever support.
When the training started, she was a bit intimidated. She had previously run only 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) and tackling double-digit mileage was daunting. But participating in group runs with the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) helped keep her focused.
“You make friends on those long runs, and they’re counting on you being there to keep them going, and they’re coming to keep you going,” she said. “I really think that was what finally pushed me through to finishing the training.”
When race day arrived, Springer could feel the nerves. She remembers being at the starting line, surrounded by thousands of runners and looking around for somebody she might recognize. By the time she reached Mile 17, she was losing steam. Thankfully, the Mercy Mile came just in time.
“It was really exciting with everybody out there cheering and the kids running along with you,” she said. “Running through there, you kind of get reenergized, and that whole thing is why you’re doing this and why you’ve put in all this work and all your fundraising.”
When Springer crossed the finish line, she joined the exclusive club of less than 1 percent of the U.S. population who has completed a marathon. She also joined the same club her parents belonged to by helping provide a safe home for children in need.
But Springer wasn’t a one-and-done marathoner. The sense of accomplishment and community she found on the Heroes team was something she wanted again. So she signed up to run the 2020 Chicago Marathon. And even though the race has been canceled, she continues to train and encourage her fellow Heroes who are committed to running 26.2 miles no matter what.
And as a person who was already goal-oriented, she’s found that becoming a marathoner has helped her achieve more than she ever thought possible.
“It really is amazing what you can talk yourself into – you’re talking yourself into every mile of that 26 miles,” she explained.
“At the end of Mile 23 you have to be talking yourself into Mile 24. And I don’t think I was prepared for how that would have such a positive impact on so many areas of my life. I’ve definitely taken on challenges that I wouldn’t have done before, knowing that I can run a marathon.”