Running the Race

January 21, 2013 • United States
Major Lewis Messick trains with his children, Mollie, Callie, Aubrey, and Ramsey.

A family trains for the Publix Georgia Marathon to raise funds for clean water projects in Niger

Running a race at any length can be daunting. But when you witness four children between the ages of 9 and 5 training for the 5K portion of the Publix Georgia Marathon this March in Atlanta, you can start to run out of excuses to not try yourself.

Major Lewis Messick of the U.S. Air Force always enjoyed running as a pastime and began competing in longer distance races. When he came across a flier for Team Samaritan’s Purse, Messick jumped at the opportunity to run for a worthy cause.

“I thought it was pretty cool that this was one way I could use my gift of running to further the cause of Christ and bring attention to the work of Samaritan’s Purse,” he said.

So Lewis signed up for the half-marathon in St. Louis last October to help raise money for Operation Christmas Child.

The joy he found in running a race for a cause was contagious, and soon everyone in his family caught the Team Samaritan’s Purse bug. The Messick children—Mollie, 9, Callie, 7, Aubrey, 6 and Ramsey, 5—will be the youngest participants to run with Team Samaritan’s Purse. Their mother, Elizabeth, will join them in the 5k while their father will take on the marathon.

Initially, they attended races wearing the blue Team Samaritan’s Purse jerseys to cheer on their dad, but now they’re excited to get in on the action themselves.

“We, as a family, like to do a lot of things together,” Lewis said. “And we thought this could be a good thing to do together, and the kids want to run in support of me and my wife.”

1-21-13-SP-Today-insetIn preparation for the Georgia event, the family has been participating in other races to raise awareness and more funds toward their ultimate goal of $2,000 for clean water projects in Niger. This month, they traveled to Disney World for Lewis to participate in the Disney Half-Marathon, while his wife, Elizabeth, ran the 5K, and his older children ran the Mickey Mile. The younger ones enjoyed running dashes together as well.

Ramsey said one of his favorite parts about running with Team Samaritan’s Purse is wearing the blue jersey, which the family dons every time they go to a running event in order to help spread the word about what they’re raising money for.

Elizabeth said having the kids be active participants in such a great fundraising effort has had a positive impact on the entire family.

“It helps make our kids more aware that there is great need in the world, and they can actually do something about it,” she said.

Anyone can participate with Team Samaritan’s Purse. Lewis said the hardest part for some people is just signing up, but once you do it, you’ll be committed enough to carry it through.

“Once you sign up and put your gifts into something beyond yourself, it just amplifies the experience so much more and motivates you so much more,” he said. “Like when I’m training for a run, it’s motivational because you’re not doing it for your own reason. You’re doing it for reasons for people outside of your normal sphere of influence, and you’re making a real, tangible impact on a hurting world.”

Even if running may not be your natural gift, your whole family can still get excited about being a part of Team’s Samaritan’s Purse, Elizabeth said.

“You can all be involved no matter what age,” she said. “Whether you are a cheerleader or a participant, no matter what your role is, you can still serve together.”

For more information on how you can get involved, click here.