I run because I can.
I run for those who can't.
I run for those I love.
Our daughter Ava was diagnosed with nemaline myopathy, a genetic muscle disorder that causes severe muscle weakness and fatigue, at the end of 2014 when she just entered kindergarten. Ava's condition is permanent so that's hard for Cynthia and I to accept. And though her condition is not progressive, it will get worse as Ava gets older since her muscles will not be developing at the rate they need to.
When first hearing of Ava's diagnosis, I felt like I failed my daughter as a father because I was not able to protect her from this. But I have now come to the realization that this has happened for a reason. God has presented Ava with this special condition so that she can show the world how to fight through and be empowered by any situation. She is truly revealing her true warrior spirit. When people hear of Ava’s story, they are usually saddened, but Ava continues to illuminate a positive spirit despite all she goes through. She is a true example of hope…and my hero.
I started my Run for MDA campaign in 2016 to raise awareness for MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) while bringing sMILEs to MDA (My Daughter Ava). Prior to 2016, I ran once per week on average and completed only one full marathon in my lifetime.
For 2016, I ran my first ultra marathon, 4 full marathons, a half marathon (and paced for another one), and my first relay from SF to Napa. In addition, I started a Run for MDA daily running streak of at least one mile a day and 100 miles a month (logging 1707 miles for 2016).
For 2017, I ran an ultra relay from LA to Vegas, a relay from LA to San Diego, 2 ultra marathons (though I had a DNF for my first 100-mile attempt due to injury), 2 full marathons (including BQ'ing during one of them at 3:04), a half marathon (which I PR'd at 1:28), a 10K alongside Ava's big bro Isaiah (cheers to this 10 y/o for completing his first 10K in honor of his lil sis), a 5K alongside Ava's lil bro Eli (kudos to this 5 y/o for completing his first 5K in honor of his big sissy), and a 1-miler alongside Ava herself as well as Cynthia and Ava's bros, cousins, and friends (this was definitely the most meaningful mile that I have ever ran). Also, Ava's CRew emerged for Ragnar SoCal and Disneyland Super Heroes Weekend (with Ava running the kids quarter mile race with Cynthia) as well as Ava's Army uniting for the Bay Area MDA Muscle Walk. Lastly, I continued the Run for MDA running streak (logging 1802 miles for 2017).
For 2018, I ran an ultra relay from LA to Vegas again, a relay from LA to San Diego again, a full marathon, a half marathon, a 10K, and a 5K (which I PR'd at 19:46; Ava's big bro Isaiah and lil bro Eli also ran this race). I cheered for a 1-miler that Ava herself wheelchaired her first race (and that Cynthia ran with her) and for a half-miler that Ava ran with so much strength and courage. Also, Ava's CRew proudly trained, fundraised, and represented at Ragnar SoCal and at all races during SF Giants race weekend while Ava's Army banned together once again for the Bay Area MDA Muscle Walk. Ava was a honored guest at the first annual MDA San Franisco Gala where Ava's family, friends, CRew, and Army were all able to come together for this fancy, festive event (and also where I had the pleasure to be a guest speaker to share Ava's story). Hawaii, Ava's service dog, came into Ava's life and she is not only serving as Ava's goodwill ambassador but is providing Ava with life-changing experiences. Lastly, I continued the Run for MDA running streak (logging 1569 miles for 2018).
This running journey has been brutal on my body both physically and mentally. But you know what? Individuals like Ava who suffer from muscle disease have to deal with pain or discomfort every day of their lives while doing regular daily activities that most of us take for granted. So I can suffer a little bit for the greater good.
I want to thank all of you for the overwhelming love and support. Not only have you have been cheering us on from the get-go and have kept us going strong but you have held me accountable for my promise. You have also helped us raise a lot of awareness and funding for the MDA who fight to free individuals - and the families who love them - from the harmful effects of muscular dystrophy, ALS, and related life-threatening diseases so they can live longer and grow stronger. And most importantly, you have inspired Ava to try, you have empowered Ava to be more confident, and you have showed Ava that she is loved.
For 2019, my main priorities will remain the same: raise awareness for the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association), bring sMILEs to MDA (My Daughter Ava), and motivate and inspire others as we all Run for MDA. But more importantly, I will continue to pray for Ava, I will continue to hug and kiss Ava, I will continue to help Ava be as active and self-sufficient as possible.
2019 Run for MDA race calendar (...currently a work-in-progress):
* 1 mile
Bay Area MDA Muscle Walk with Ava's Army - TBD
* 3.1 mile (5K)
SF Giants Race - September 8th
* 6.2 mile (10K)
SF Giants Race - September 8th
* 13.1 mile (Half Marathon)
SF Half Marathon - July
* 26.2 mile (Full Marathon)
Boston Marathon - April 15th
Revel Mount Charleston - April 27th
*50 mile (Ultra Marathon)
*100 mile (Ultra Marathon)
*Bracket-style race tournament
Knockout - January 17th
* Daily running streak
I vow to continue to run at least 1 mile every day and at least 100 miles per month.
And for 2019, I will be aiming to hit 2000 miles for the year.
Thanks for taking the time to read Ava's story and following our journey.
Please stay updated via my 'Run for MDA' Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/RunForAva
#RunForMDA #sMILEs #MDATeamMomentum
#ConcreteRunners #MIPWorldwide #TeamSFOG