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Archive for the ‘animal welfare’ Category

Every now and then you meet someone who makes an impression on your life. Someone who, through their integrity, hard work, selfless achievements, and personal sacrifices, is, simply put, a hero. I was fortunate enough to meet such a person recently, although I didn’t fully realize the scope and quality of her heroism until the other night.

I met Molly Thorpe for the first time several weeks ago when Alan and I volunteered at the Run for Ike 5k. When I met Molly, I was mostly impressed that she had managed to put the event together in three weeks, involving the community, the police, and the city government as sponsors, supporters, and volunteers. It was impressive, but not heroic. I also knew that she coached young students to run in many events, including training for, participating in, and hopefully finishing the Los Angeles Marathon. Again, impressive, worthwhile, but not necessarily heroic.

All that was before I attended the annual award banquet for the Palm Springs Marathon Runners and finally recognized just what a hero Molly is.

First, a little history of the Palm Springs Marathon Runners. The program has just finished it’s fifth year. Molly was inspired to start the Marathon Runners after reading an article in Runner’s World Magazine about ‘Students Run LA,’ a similar program, which focused on taking ‘at risk’ students and training with them to run the Los Angeles Marathon. Molly embraced the idea, partly because she was a runner and a teacher and loved the idea of changing students lives through running.

Over the years, 75 students have participated in the Palm Springs Marathon Runners program. Of those, 30 completed enough smaller events to qualify to run the marathon, and 27 of those completed the 26.2 mile race. Along the way, the children learn about commitment, dedication, friendship, goal setting, hard work, and accomplishment, just to name a few of the benefits. To date, each participant is either still in school, or has graduated from high school. Some have gone on to college. And these were troubled kids, some of whom had been expelled from school, who, had they not found this program could have ended up being written off by the standard school system.

While I was preparing to write this post, I sent Molly an email asking about the history of the Palm Springs Marathon Runners. She quickly replied and asked me to spread the word about the program. To do so, I added a new page to this blog and copied Molly’s entire email, which gives a lot more information about the program. To read it, click here.

When we arrived at the banquet, we mingled for a while, then following the seating charts were seated at table #2, along with some friends of ours. Greg Klein, co-owner of KleinClark Sports, who produces many of the running events in the Coachella Valley, and helped the PS Marathon Runners’ program by offering discounted race entries. Cherie Gruenfeld, who has completed numerous ironman distance triathlons and has written a book on how to train for the event. Cherie introduced Molly and her kids to multisport, and they added a triathlon to their training program. Jim Franklin, who at 81  still competes in many running events and enjoys sharing his experiences (and the road) with the young people in the marathon program.

Our friends, Jim Franklin, Greg Klein, and Cherie Gruenfeld were seated at our table.

After we had all taken our seats, Molly introduced herself, talked a little about the program, then introduced the people sitting at table #1, who included her husband, Jay, some family and close friends. Then her teacher side came out, and she had her runners introduce the rest of the guests.

We were shown a video of the runners participating in this year’s events, then Molly, again channeling her inner teacher, called upon her students to stand before the crowd to tell about their experiences.

This was when I realized that I was in the presence of a hero. As child after child stood before us, they all, some haltingly, some confidently, spoke about their experience becoming marathon runners. They talked about the challenges they faced, the accomplishment they felt, the confidence they gained, all through participating in the Marathon Runners program.  Most of all, though, what came through during their speeches was the love and respect for the woman who, in reality, had saved them. It was Molly’s guidance, dedication, hard work, and love that enabled them to learn that they could succeed.

Ironman Cherie Gruenfeld gave all the kids a signed copy of her book, "Become an Ironman."

The rest of the evening went quickly. We were fed (I was able to make a nice vegan tostada salad!), many awards were handed out (Molly really knows how to put together an awards banquet!),  The last part of the evening was dedicated to the Run for Ike. Ike was the Palm Springs K-9 who was killed in the line of duty last month. The proceeds from the race will be used to purchase and train a new K-9 officer for the police force.  Amazingly, $15,130.25 was raised! Palm Springs police officers Lt. Fallon and K-9 Sgt. Cabrera were there to receive the check. Sgt. Cabrera brought tears to my eyes as he choked up himself describing the loss that the entire force felt with the death of Ike.

I love being called "Ikes Angels!"

What really touched me about the whole experience was this: This dedicated woman put together this program from scratch. She worked with the community to raise money to fund the Marathon Runners. She has dedicated her life to these children. She is, of course, out there running right along side them, both in training and in the marathon. She stands behind these kids, fights for them, and when all is said, she loves them. Molly Thorpe, not only are you a hero to your kids, you are my new hero too.

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Warning: A few of the links that I have provided show very graphic, disturbing images of extreme cruelty to animals. While I don’t apologize for them, I want to let you know ahead of time. Just remember: It may disturb you, it may make you cry, but it won’t hurt you. It only hurts the animals that are victims of this abuse. I hope it will make you think.

It is a question that I hear frequently, “Why are you a Vegetarian?” Especially when people learn that it has been less than three years since I gave up meat. It is an ironic question to me, because, I feel the answer is so obvious, “Because I didn’t want to eat animals anymore.”

That simple answer brings a variety of responses. Yesterday, when I answered one of my cross country runners, she said, “oh…that makes me feel, um, guilty.” My response to that: Good.

A few will answer, “well, they are just animals.” My feelings about that and my response to (former) friends who think that way can be found here.

Sometimes, the only response is silence. Because really, what can a humane person say? In this era of mass production and factory farming, it goes way beyond the idea of taking a beautiful, live, breathing being, killing it, cooking it, then eating it for personal pleasure. That alone is enough for me, but if it not for you, please consider:

1. Without going into detail, simply said, factory farming is cruel and inhumane. There are a multitude of reports detailing the horrible treatment that farm animals receive at the hands of factory farmers. Cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys; they are all victims. There is no excuse for this abuse and to actually eat the results condones and rewards the perpetrators.

2. The health benefits are substantial. A well planned, well balanced vegetarian diet provides all essential vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and more that your body needs without the fat and cholesterol inherent in a meat laden diet. Vegetarians tend to be healthier, leaner, have lower cholesterol, blood pressure and consequently less heart disease, stroke, cancer and mortality. More more health benefits check here.

My friends who read this, I’m not trying to convert you. Well, maybe I am, but I mostly want you to be aware. I want you to be healthy. I want you to think about what you eat. These horrible abuses will continue unless we fight them. And the first step is knowledge. The second step, or you can call it a challenge is: Pledge to be Veg for 30 days.

Come on, I dare you!

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