Dear Friends and Family,
What thoughts come to mind when you think about running? Do you think of the pain that comes with each stride? Do you make excuses to avoid running? “I have bad knees/feet/legs/toes. My asthma is really bad this time of year. It’s too hot. It’s too cold.” Or maybe you have said something like, “Running? I don’t run unless I’m being chased.” I know you have said these things because we ALL have.
My running journey started when I joined the United States Army four years ago. And like anyone else, I hated running! We would run three times a week, between two and six miles each day. It was then that I started to see running as work and would never consider doing it on my own time. I use to enjoy running before I enlisted in the United States Army but something changed during those four years. My loathing for running intensified during my six-month deployment to Afghanistan. We were required to run three miles, three times a week on sharp, uneven gravel. It was tortuous and I found it to be both mentally and physically exhausting. My muscles ached and my lungs screamed while I endlessly gasped for oxygen high in the mountains.
When I returned home this past December, my running thought process abruptly changed. I watched an inspiring video in which my seven year-old nephew, Jack, encouraged families to share their Thanksgiving feast with children in Ethiopia. This video helped raise over $40,000 to open a new center
for the children in the Story Changers program! He raised more money for these children in a couple of weeks than I make in an entire year. I couldn’t believe it. How can a seven year-old kid raise this much money? The answer was so simple. He made an effort. He opened his mouth and said, “I want to help those in need.”
I’ve always told myself I want to get more involved with various charities and make a difference, but I have never put my plan into action. I always made excuses like, “I don’t know where to start. It’s too hard. What difference can I really make?”
When I saw and heard what my nephew had accomplished and how much of a difference he made
in someone else’s life, it inspired me. I realized it was time for me to make an effort and stop
So I am going to run. Run 26.2 miles. Run a marathon and dedicate it to those same children in Ethiopia.
Many children have limited access to food/water and shoes are a luxury that few can afford.
The shoes they do have are torn apart, three sizes too big or too small. And the majority goes without
any shoes at all. Meanwhile, I wake up every day and pick from my shoe selection. I put on my boots,
tennis shoes, or running shoes and walk out the door without giving it a second thought.
But now I am thinking about it and I want to put shoes on the feet of these children in Ethiopia and
the Congo. With your help, maybe we can make a difference in someone’s life. I've fallen in love with
running again. I believe it's because it has a new meaning for me. I have someone to run for.
I want to challenge you to run. Run for a cause. Run to make a difference. Run a 5k, 10k, half marathon,
a full marathon, or just run a lap around your block. Run to put a smile on someone else’s face as well
as your own. And remember, “It's when the discomfort strikes that they realize a strong mind is the
most powerful weapon of all."
I am asking you to put a pair of new shoes on a shoeless child. To support this cause please
donate. Any amount will help make a difference for these children.
Barry Phillips Jr
Meet Alemayehu. He lives in Mojo, Ethiopia
and is one of the many I am running for.
130 pairs of shoes
"Thank you for inspiring me Jack! Don't ever lose that big heart of yours!" -Uncle BJ