This Saturday, February 9th marks the 2nd annual 'Run For Sherry' event that will take place on trails, paths, roads, sidewalks, and treadmills, and in the hearts of tens of thousands of runners all around the country. Who is Sherry, you ask? And why are so many people running for her?
Think back to a story that you might have caught in the headlines early last January. Sherry Arnold - mom, runner, teacher, mentor - was headed off on a weekend run from her home in the small town of Sidney, Montana. She hit the pavement around 6:30am. When she didn't return home after a few hours, her husband got worried, and when she still didn't make it home by 3:00pm, he called the police. Within hours, hundreds of volunteers mobilized to search for the 43 year old mom of two.
I wish I could tell you that Sherry's story has a happy ending. But it does not. It took seven days for the police to arrest the two men they believed were responsible for Sherry's disappearance and another two months for officials to locate her body. The two men that police think are responsible will go to trial later this year.
This kind of senseless tragedy is always heartbreaking. For those who knew Sherry - it is a whole that will never be filled. Sherry was a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, teacher, runner, niece, and active community member. She was just like you and me. For those of us who didn't know Sherry it is a painful reminder of how fleeting and tragic life can sometimes be. How could something so random and violent happen to someone who was simply trying to enjoy a morning run?
Sherry's story made headlines on mainstream media outlets for a few weeks, but it has continued to rock the running community around the world.
Last year, when police were still searching for Sherry's body, her cousin over at Shut Up + Run organized a virtual 'Run For Sherry.' The event - held on February 11, 2012 - was an opportunity for runners of all shapes, ages, sizes, and abilities to keep Sherry's memory alive. No race fees, no early morning registration, no travel logistics. The idea was to simply go out and run or walk any distance on that day - whether it was 3 miles or 33 miles - to keep Sherry's memory alive. And 30,000 people around the country and even around the world did just that.
"I will be running for Sherry this weekend. May just be me, but I am going out."
"It could have been any one of us. I'm sure she would honor us if we were her "fallen sister". I will take my 2 daughters out with me in honor of her & her family..."
"I will run for sherry in Rome Italy!! Stay safe a run hard!!!!"
"I ran for Sherry last year and will run Saturday for her as well."
"I will never forget Sherry - was just stunned. I'll be thinking of her on Saturday as well."
"I am hoping to gather some friends to run for Sherry up here in Ottawa, ON, Canada. Rain or snow. her story, and your story of healing touched me. Thank you for sharing this journey, and her story so candidly."
To participate in the event, all you have to do is print out the downloadable bib from the Shut Up + Run website, gather your running buddies, and head out the door. I plan to run for Sherry this weekend.
Care to join me?