Monday, February 25, 2013

For Pingliang's Orphanage Children: 26.2 Miles

Henry with his Dad at 25 miles
Even the most casual reader skimming these posts would likely notice that we often try to raise support for programs that help children at the Pingliang Children’s Welfare Institute (CWI) and that are managed by the charitable organization Love Without Boundaries.  For my own part, as father to three children born in China, I've visited several Chinese orphanages, but Pingliang’s, where Henry got his start, has seemed a little different—with so many of its children suffering from severe disabilities and so few who might be candidates for foreign or domestic adoptions. I will never forget them: children facing so many challenges without a dad or a mom to lean on. Love Without Boundaries provides a great way to remember, even if just in a small way.

So yesterday I ran 26.2 miles in the New Orleans Marathon to raise funds for LWB’s Special Medical Projects Program in Pingliang. We raised nearly $2,000.

Fifty-five years old and maybe 5’ 4”, I am no doubt more naturally suited to thoughtful pursuits than tests of physical endurance. But in my late 20s and early 30s I ran in a few marathons, finishing well in each.  Maybe I could run 26.2 miles again for children at the Pingliang Children’s Welfare Institute.  A few months in advance I began a weekly pattern of practice runs and built up my training miles on schedule.  On race day I felt better than I'd thought I would, although maybe a little out of place packed amidst the thousands of diehard racers at the start.

The route took me a little over five hours at what seemed like a fairly steady pace. The best part was seeing my family by the side of the road, to cheer me on at mile 16 and especially again at mile 25 where Henry and his sisters ran alongside me for a little while. And a nice thing about all those miles, during the race and beforehand, was that they gave me more time than usual to reflect on the important things in life. Running a marathon is hard, but not as hard as being a child with medical issues in an orphanage in northwest China.

The Special Medical Assistance Program at the Pingliang CWI supports child surgeries, staff medical or therapeutic training, or equipment or travel associated with priority medical needs. For example, funds from the program were used just this past month to transport three children to a hospital 600 miles away in Kunming, Yunnan Province, for cleft palate surgery. The program has also paid for staff training in physical therapy (see photo to the right), including one series of workshops recently provided onsite that was open to and attended by several local families who had chosen not to abandon their children with special needs.

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