Running Team Formed With Eye On Bringing Families To OC

OCEAN CITY – A group of courageous locals are “Running to Get Kids to the Beach”.

An OC Half Marathon team of 15 will be running, walking, or crawling 13.1 miles from the Ocean City Inlet to Assateague Island. The team hopes to raise $13,100, which is $1,000 a mile, to benefit the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House by the Sea.

Meeting their goal will mean they provided the support for 13 families to vacation in Ocean City. The vacation will allow a family to escape home where medical treatments and hospital visits are commonplace and to enjoy a stay in a beachfront resort.

The team’s organizer, Laura Deeley Bren, was training for the OC Half Marathon when she sat down for lunch with the director of Children’s House, Wayne Littleton, to discuss a benefit golf tourney.

“I had already committed to the personal goal of completing the race and was training independently. I was having lunch with Wayne Littleton to discuss the upcoming golf tournament and was apologizing I would be unable to attend the Gala this year as it falls the night before the race. Then as we were sitting at lunch the idea just hit me,” Bren said. “What if we could convince people to sponsor me $1,000 a mile – that could send 13 families to the beach for a week. So, by the end of lunch I had promised $13,100 in eight weeks.”

In putting a team together, Bren, president of Atlantic/Smith, Cropper & Deeley, emailed five friends with the subject reading, “Congratulations, you’ve made the team”. Once she had those five members on board and others began to hear about the cause, “people were coming out of the woodwork” to join the team.

Shortly after the birth of her second child, Bren started running to get back in shape and soon developed a love affair with it.

“I am a better person because I run. The more I run the less I want to run away from the problems in my life. I’ve been encouraged to meditate — this is when I do it. I am not still but my mind is open.  I am the most ‘still’ when I run. How’s that for irony? I hope through this little challenge more of my friends find this joy. A thing in their lives that they own, and a thing that is uniquely theirs,” Bren said. “In addition to supporting this awesome cause, this event has the ability to encourage each of us to push beyond our comfort zones and do something we never thought we could do.”

Unfortunately, due to a recent injury during her training, Bren will be cheering her team on from the side lines during the marathon, which will be held April 30 beginning in the Inlet and ending on Assateague Island. She is already planning to race in 2012.

“I am heartbroken but can look back at the series of events that evolved and recognize this was never about me running this race,” Bren said. “It was about sending 13 families with critically ill children to the beach. It was about opening others to the possibility they could push themselves far beyond what they believed to be their physical limitation and run, walk or crawl this 13.1 miles.”

The Believe in Tomorrow cause hits home for Bren because of a series of events that her family had to go through with her firstborn son, Austin. He was born with a congenital heart defect and Bren and her family stayed at the Children’s House at Hopkins while her son underwent several surgeries. Austin is now a healthy 6-year-old.

“We all need it every now and then. From the outside, it may appear the current circumstances of my life could be considered stressful. I have, however, witnessed what true stress, powerlessness and anxiety feels like,” Bren wrote on the “Running to Get Kids to the Beach” website.

According to Believe in Tomorrow’s website, the organization provides exceptional hospital and respite housing services to critically ill children and their families with clean, comfortable facilities that serve as a tool for families to rejuvenate and reconnect.

Believe in Tomorrow’s five respite facilities were the first and remain to be the only of their kind in the nation. Families who experience the facilities discover the serenity, proximity and time needed to bond and mend the supportive web of their family life.

The Believe in Tomorrow House by the Sea is one of two homes the organization has in Ocean City.. It is a beautifully decorated, two-level, six-unit condominium. Each unit features at least two bedrooms, one full bath, kitchen, dining, and living room areas.

According to Bren, as of Monday, April 18, the team has raised $11,600 and only needs $1,500 to reach their goal. Visit www.runforbit.com to give and learn more.

“We are only a breath away from this being our child,” Bren said. “Life happens in an instant.”

Other local residents committed to run next weekend for the cause include Carrie Andersen, Nikki Rayne, Julie Wilsey, Jenny Streets, Ty Burrowbridge, Brenda Smith, Megan Muller, Wendy Shirk, Misty Bunting, Debbie Voos, Andria Janson, Sasha Motsko Myers and John and Rachalle Spicer.

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