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My mission is twofold. Firstly, my mission is to give. To give back to the communities that have given so much to me. Those communities are: Princeton, NJ, Red Wing, MN, and West Salem, WI. I have been blessed with the opportunity to attend one of the greatest educational institutions in the world. And the Princeton community has been nothing short of amazing— from professors and faculty, to fellow students, to the organizations in which I have been involved. It was through a program called Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS) that I had the opportunity to intern at Every Hand Joined in Red Wing. And what an experience that was, allowing me to develop relationships with some of the most selfless people I have met. And finally, I am deeply grateful for my hometown of West Salem— my family, church parish, the school district, and the broader community— which instilled in me values and has been supportive of my endeavors.

One area that hits home for me is wellness– and not just physical wellness. It is an area I think that, through contemplating running’s simplicities and complexities, I have naturally gravitated towards. Yes, running is as simple as throwing on a pair of shoes (or maybe even going barefoot) and putting one foot in front of the other. But running is as complex as what’s going on inside your body and inside your head, from the last meals you ate to the stresses of everyday life. My whole life I have been blessed with good health. I have been blessed with a secure economic upbringing and stable household. I have been blessed with a loving environment that supports my needs and ambitions. The dimensions that contribute to my overall wellness have constantly been met, and I know just how different my running, but more importantly my life, would be if that were not the case. If nutritious food had not always been available. If I had not been taught the importance of living a substance-free life. If the chemicals in my brain were balanced differently. If I had to worry where I was going to sleep each night or whether someone would be waiting to pick me up from school or practice. There are millions of children and families who struggle with basic wellness needs on a daily basis– from hunger to health to feeling supported. And if we can do our part to help, oh, what a difference that will make. Oh, how their lives— and ours— will be changed for the better.

The organizations I have chosen to run for are ones that work to promote and develop community wellness. The multifaceted work that they do is both inspiring and impactful. Among the three organizations, they work to eliminate hunger. They work with youth to ensure that they are ready for school and are being supported both in and out of school. They work with high schoolers to prepare them for college and beyond. They work to improve the physical health of both children and adults. They work to provide support to keep families in stable housing. They work to bring Olympic-type sports to the developmentally disabled. But what is important about their work is something I heard repeatedly during my time as an intern with Every Hand Joined. The inspiring thing is that these organizations are not doing things to or for the recipient, but they are working with the recipient.

Finally, my mission is to make my running mean more than just running. I want to make my run 3,000 miles of prayer, offering up each mile for a different intention, perhaps a small way to unite the United States. Because it is by running, and more importantly by living outside of ourselves that we are able to find lasting meaning and wellness in our lives. And that is the ultimate mission.

University students installing a Born Learning Trail.

Nonprofit, business, school, and community members of Every Hand Joined’s Partner Table.

 

New Jersey athletes in the World Games.

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