Because this feels a heck of a lot better than running 30 miles!
Queens will forever be my home. When my father took me for adventures when I was a kid, he wouldn't usually take me to a carnival or theme park, he would opt to take me to Forest Hills, Astoria, Flushing with a destination in mind. Very quickly, I came to appreciate the hyper-diversity that Queens is known for. "How often do I get to see the world on a ride through the 7 train", I thought to myself. Running has transformed me from head to toe, spirit to soul, but nothing relaxes me more than going for a peaceful walk from one neighborhood to another, it was truly a saving grace during my adolescence.
It took a while for me to find myself. It almost feels like I began to LIVE at 22 years old. I never fully embraced my childhood, as I spent so many hours chained to a Nebulizer for my asthma that thankfully receeded as I became more active. Energy, as it turns out, was something I would never lack. Everything changed when my world was turned upside down as I followed through with a self-dare that I could complete my 1st Distance Race, a 60K (37.2 Miles, 11 more than a Marathon) of all things. As a life experience- it felt like the first time I had lived through a mini portion size of what life can throw in your way, I never looked back and you know the rest.
After a couple of years of finding myself as a runner, the turning point of my life was the decision to create the "Queens Distance Runners", a Running Club aimed at providing opportunities for Queens residents to run and enjoy healthy activities while enjoying local places of interest that might have been previously overlooked. Simple concept, except I did not expect the world within my world to expand. I made friends with members living on streets I had always walked past, and there were organizations out there making a world of a difference for Queens residents day in and day out, that we may overlook as we keep on keeping on.
Through her advocacy and work in the community, I caught up with Wendy Phaff, and the Queens Centers for Progress, and immediately wanted to get involved once I learned that QCP is all about "Services for People with Developmental Disabilities". I couldn't believe that every time I ran on 164th Street, I ran right past this center that works tireless on limited funding to help people of all ages with developmental disabilities. Wendy gets the best out of people, and as long as you have the will to help, she will put you in a position to do so. She has led several fundraisers across Queens, all very well put together and exciting, and goes the extra miles by opening a Chapter of Achilles International-Queens and creating Crowdrise accounts for athletes running across different cities to benefit QCP. After taking me through a tour of QCP, it was clear to me why QCP and several non-profits need consistent advocacy.
These last few years have been nothing short of a blessing. Most of my good friends are from the very team I created which fosters an attitude of strength in acceptance and enthusiasm of one another, Queens has a Marathon of it's own, and perhaps best of all, instead of waking up wondering "what's going to happen?", I find myself frequently asking "what can I do?". With this in mind, as I hit Level 30, I will use the platform I have to spread awareness and encourage people to step up and do the same (there is much we need to learn about each other) starting with this Fundraiser for the Queens Centers for Progress right now.
For any additional information on QCP, please email Wendy at WPhaff@queenscp.org.
Thank you for your time and donation,