Wes Van Dorn Challenge

Why I Run

If you had asked me a year ago, are you a runner? Heck, do you exercise regularly? With juggling life with a toddler on top of everything else, I'll be honest... I would have honestly laughed out loud. I just didn't make either a priority. I have never been a runner. I was always dead last in gym class. Team training sprints in high school when I was on a rowing team were the bane of my existence.

Last fall, a switch clicked in my head. Keeping up with my daughter was not going to get easier unless I started putting myself first and prioritizing my health.

But there is another reason that's always in my heart and in the back of my mind. Almost a year and a half ago, I started to receive media requests from the media, especially in the South. With my heart racing and my mouth going dry, they all told me the same thing. That Wes Van Dorn, whose wedding to Nicole I had photographed back in 2010,was killed while piloting an MH-53E Sea Dragon off the coast of Virginia on January 8th, 2014. They didn't have to remind me who he was. His smile, eyes... dimples... and his gorgeous bride, Nicole, they were unforgettable. I remember them both like it was yesterday.

When I found out that his friends created The Wes Van Dorn Challenge, otherwise known as Muscles and Meat, to raise funds to care for the two sons he left behind, I knew I was in. As always, anything I could do to help.

After a winter of treadmill running and exercising in my basement, flash forward to last night. I pulled on my Muscles and Meat shirt. Anxiously laced up my running shoes. And paced around a lot as I waited to start my first 5K race in years. As it got under way, I couldn't help but think of Wes and Nicole, and their adorable boys, especially when I was questioning my own sanity for signing up to race every week through mid-September. Left foot. Right foot. Breath. Do this for them. No matter what.

And I did. I ran the whole race. And I'll do it again next week. And the week after. And I plan to wear my shirt every week to honor him. I'm running for Wes.