Miles to a Miracle!!!

By Laura Edwards

My sister, Taylor, is pretty amazing, and she has a lot of achievements to her credit – some of them mind-boggling considering the obstacles she faces.

When Girls on the Run came to Taylor’s school at the beginning of her fifth grade year, she insisted on taking part in the program with her classmates – never mind that she’s blind. Taylor has always refused to watch the figurative race – life itself – from the sidelines – and the way she saw it, a 5K should not be any different. Each weekday that year, she stayed after school to run and/or walk laps around the track with her classmates and coaches. Unlike the others, Taylor had a special buddy – an upper school student who held onto one end of a rope while T held onto the other end. With the help of this special friend, Mary-Kate, T never veered off course.
On the day of the practice 5K shortly before their first shot at the real thing – the Jingle Jog in uptown Charlotte – Taylor was the last person to finish her laps. I was not there that day, but many people have related their own version of the story of how, as T finished her last few laps, others – including her classmates and coaches – fell in behind her until finally, when T crossed the finish line, she was the leader of a huge pack. Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run, witnessed T’s feat that day and immortalized it in an article she wrote for Endurance Magazine.
A few days later, T took part in the 2008 Jingle Jog 5K in uptown Charlotte. Flanked by her running buddy, one of her coaches and a few classmates, she crossed the finish line running. The expression on my sister’s face at that very moment, in my eyes at least, was a symbol of hope: proof that nothing – even Batten disease – is cause enough for giving up on a dream.

Five months later, T completed the Girls on the Run 5K, shaving 12 minutes off her Jingle Jog time. On the last lap, we came across the word ‘Believe,’ written in big chalk letters stretched across the pavement. And even though T didn’t win the race that day, watching her cross the finish line a few minutes later really brought the magic of her story to light. It also reminded me that even though we don’t know exactly how long it will take us to get there, the finish line – in this case, the cure for Batten disease – does exist. And the smarter and faster we run, the more kids like Taylor we’ll save.

Enter Miles to a Miracle, Taylor’s Tale’s exciting new campaign to fight the disease that threatens to steal Taylor’s ability to run and so much else. T’s story is about running, but you can do whatever activity you love for kids with Batten disease – whether it’s running, walking, hiking, biking or swimming. Miles to a Miracle is a portal where you can log miles, raise money, connect with others and share your story through pictures, words and video. You can do something healthy and fun, network and support a great cause (happy endings for children like Taylor, of course!). You can create events of your own – from a top local race you run each year to a group walk after work one night. Our goal is to raise $24,901 – the distance in miles around the globe – in honor of kids all over the world fighting this tragic disease. For my part, I plan to donate a dollar for every mile I log in addition to asking friends and family for one-time donations when I run big races, like the Thunder Road Half Marathon in Charlotte next month. More than anything, though, we want Miles to a Miracle to take our story all over the world so that people know this horrible disease exists and takes the lives of all children it strikes. So, even if you don’t think you’ll do any fundraising but still want to help us use Taylor’s inspiring story to fight Batten disease while doing something healthy for yourself, please join us!

Register today to start logging miles, or donate to a friend’s effort. Either way, you can help write the happy ending for children fighting Batten disease! Thank you for all that you do to protect those seven chalk letters we saw on the street that day. The chalk washed away long ago, but the letters themselves live on in my heart:

B-e-l-i-e-v-e.

Go to Miles to a Miracle!

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