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Blown off course by Hurricane Sandy: How World Vision’s marathon runners turned it around

World Vision
14 November 2012 by Rose Levien
Blown off course by Hurricane Sandy: How World Vision’s marathon runners turned it around

Team World Vision runners help put together food kits at World Vision US’s Bronx warehouse.

Ten months ago, seven willing supporters took on the challenge to run the ING New York City Marathon 2012 for World Vision.

For some people, running just 5km is a feat, let alone 42km and raising $10,000! This was no easy challenge…

We didn’t know it at the time, but the journey to that starting line was going to take a stormy turn for the worse. One week before the marathon, Hurricane Sandy hit New York and the surrounding areas.

Houses, airports and hotels were flooded. Thousands of homes were without power and many buildings got completely destroyed, leaving only wreckage and memories (read more about the devastation – and the relief effort – at World Vision US’s blog).

A few days after the hurricane hit, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the New York Marathon would still go ahead as scheduled; it would now be dedicated to the victims and their families of the hurricane.

The next hurdle for any international runner (including our team) was to then get to New York as all the airports were closed. By Friday morning we had all arrived, feeling a bit frazzled after various flights and delays but at least we were there.

Then came the breaking news on Friday evening that the “NEW YORK MARATHON IS CANCELLED”. While holding the race would not have required diverting resources from the recovery effort, it became clear that the widespread perception to the contrary had become the source of controversy and division.

It came down to the runners’ safety and also the fact that the marathon was distracting from the important work being done to help New York recover.

At first, the World Vision team of runners felt shock and anger at the decision. Having spent ten months training and, for many, sacrificing other areas of their lives, it was devastating to know they had come this far and wouldn’t have the chance to reach their goal.

Only an hour later, we were due to attend the Team World Vision dinner hosted by the USA team who had 45 runners. The Aussie team gathered their spirits and headed out.

Good decision! We spent the evening reflecting on the impact that each runner had already made by just getting to this point. It was an uplifting few hours and the team left feeling an increased sense of acceptance at the situation they found themselves in. We also had a plan to turn the situation into a positive.

On Saturday, when most of the runners would normally be resting up and taking it easy, we all jumped on a train and headed north to the Bronx where we met up with other Team World Vision runners from around the world, all wanting to put their energy and passion to good use.

Instead of pounding the streets of New York, we got stuck in with the relief efforts organised by World Vision USA. This was an incredible experience. We spent several hours packing food aid kits for Sandy survivors in the Bronx. Each kit contained enough food to feed a family of five for a day.

On Sunday, we all jumped back on the train and went to assist with the distribution of the packs to local communities.

Our motto for Team World Vision is “Be a part of something big”. Although our runners didn’t get to cross the finish line, they are part of something very special and that is the change that World Vision brings about. With the almost $70,000 that our team raised alone, up to 14,000 families of six can be fed for a month. Just having a small insight into what one food aid pack means to a family in New York, you can really start to see what a HUGE difference this team has made with their efforts.

Watch this video of Tim packing a food aid kit in New York, and times that by 14,000!

To each and every family that receives food aid and relief essentials from World Vision’s food aid program, these runners are heroes. They’ve already crossed the finish line!

To show your support to the runners, you can still donate on our New York Marathon page.

Rose Levien is National Events Manager for Team World Vision

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