Issue23_Features_AlumKnights

AlumKnights: Running with a purpose in the Bali Hope Ultra

Apr 17 • AlumKnights, Features • 1296

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It was a Friday afternoon like any other, when my sister, Nikki, text messaged me and said, “So … I have some big news that I would like to share with you after I get out of work. Good news. It’s actually unreal.”
Naturally, my first thoughts were “Oh, maybe she got a new job, maybe she met a nice guy, and how I am supposed to concentrate now?” I responded, “I literally do not know how I’m going to wait until you are done with work to hear this.”
Nikki then sent me a link to the YouTube video titled, “15 everyday heroes wanted for the Bali Hope Ultra in May 2018” and told me to watch the video before calling her. I teared up. I smiled, but I also wasn’t sure why she had sent me the link.
When I called Nikki, she told me that she was the last runner selected to participate in the Bali Hope Ultra Marathon of 2018. As she kept talking, she said that when she was filling out the application, she realized that the runners were allowed to invite someone to run with them. As soon as she said that, I knew she was asking me to run this race with her.
The overwhelming amount of happiness that I felt was unreal. At first, it felt surreal. It still feels surreal. I am honored, blessed, humbled and genuinely thrilled to be a part of this wonderful cause. I can’t wait to take on this adventure with my sister by my side every step of the way.
On the day before Nikki and I had this conversation, I was talking to a close friend about feeling lost, feeling like life had to have a bigger purpose and feeling like I needed to do something to change this. I didn’t know what and I didn’t know when. This event is meant to help 100 kids receive an education. Education is life-changing for these individuals, and I could not be more excited to help others and impact their lives. I love running and I love how it can change the lives of others.
A little bit more about me: I have been running since I was 14 years old. I started running to stay in shape for soccer and kept running to stay in shape through college. I eventually signed up for a 5K here and there and slowly fell in love with the way it made me feel.
In 2013, my friend, Chrissy, asked me to do the holiday Runner’s World run streak with her. For it, you must run a minimum of one mile per day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
Sometime in mid-December, my sister showed me a runner on Facebook who had been performing a running streak for over three years. The more I looked into it, this was way bigger than I realized. There have been people performing a running streak for 30, 40 and even 50-plus years. That’s when I thought to myself, “When will I ever run 20 days in a row again?”
I decided to make it a goal to maintain the running streak for at least one year. To make a long story short, one year came and went, two years, three years and finally four years. The running streak that began on Nov. 26, 2013, continues to this day.
Initially, this streak was started to help Chrissy stay in shape and to help keep myself in shape through the holidays. As I have continued the streak, the reason has changed.
One day, I had a co-worker message me and tell me that I helped her turn her life around. She said she was drinking every day and eating unhealthily. She said that seeing me make the commitment to run every day gave her a reason to start at least doing one day a week, slowly turning it into two, three and four days a week and eventually she began a running streak.
I’m telling this story because I believe in helping others. I believe in having a positive impact in the world. The way that I have been able to do so is with running.
The Bali Hope Ultra Marathon combines everything that I am passionate about: making a positive impact in other people’s lives, education, health and wellness, running, exploring the beautiful world we live in and meeting new people. My personal goal is to help raise $5,000 for the charity Classroom of Hope, which provides individuals living in Bali with the opportunity to receive an education, by May of 2018.
Collectively, the team’s goal is to raise $100,000, which will send 100 kids to primary school for six years in Bali, Indonesia. This is the first year of the Bali Ultra Marathon, but founder Tom Hickman has all intentions of turning this into an annual run to continue sending children to school who would normally not have access to such education. With the support of my community, I believe it is possible to reach my fundraising goal and, hopefully, exceed it.
Editor’s note: Each participant of the Bali Hope Ultra Marathon collects donations to go toward Classroom of Hope. The link to Niemeyer’s fundraising page is https://thebalihopeultramarathon2018.everydayhero.com/au/vanessa-runs-bali-hope-ultra-marathon-2018/wizard/share.

By VANESSA NIEMEYER
alum001@gannon.edu

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