Dear Friends and Supporters,
If you’ve talked to me in the past few months, you’ve probably learned that I am training for the Chicago Marathon. This rather bold (possibly ludacris) endeavor comes not from a lifelong love of athletics, but rather from a somewhat impulsive decision to run a half marathon this past Spring. I made the choice to train for that first race because I was going through a really rough time and I needed a goal that would keep me active and engaged in something healthy. I learned so much from that first race experience (which you can read about here) and when the opportunity arose to push myself even further and run my first marathon, I decided to take the plunge.
It would be tempting to make this new running hobby of mine a story about my own strength and boldness and ability, but that’s not really the truth. My running has everything to do with the support and encouragement I’ve received from other people in my life. It was other people who first helped me believe that I had the resources within myself to face challenging times with creative solutions. And other people encouraged and supported me throughout my whole training process for my first race, cheering me on even when I wanted to give up. I have been so lucky throughout my life to have people who have invested their time and energy into helping me know that I am valued and loved and capable. That profound experience propelled me first into work as a nonprofit educator and then to ministry, so that I might love and encourage others as I have been loved and encouraged.
It feels so appropriate, given all of this, that my first marathon be dedicated to raising funds for Chicago Lights. Chicago Lights is the nonprofit arm of Fourth Presbyterian Church and they do incredible work that—at its core—is truly about helping people know that they are loved and valued and capable. They do this work through 6 distinct programs—the Tutoring Program, the Urban Farm, CLASS (arts programming in schools), Free Write Jail Arts & Literacy for incarcerated youth, a Summer Day program, and the Elam Davies Social Services Center. The majority of these programs focus on youth which is my own passion area. All of the crucial support that Chicago Lights provides empowers and encourages people to know that they are beloved. This is such important work, especially in a world as broken as ours. It’s certainly worth running 26.2 miles. And I hope it’s worth however much you can offer.
Every dollar I raise will go directly to supporting these youth and adults who very much need a message of love. And every donor is another person in this world sending them that message.
You can donate here: http://www.active.com/donate/2015BOAChiMarathon/laytonwilliams
And you can learn more about the amazing work of Chicago Lights here: www.chicagolights.org
Thanks for taking the time to read. Whether or not you can donate, please spread the word.
Layton (Aka. RunninRev)