Paying It Forward

Moving is always a good thing in at least one way, and that is getting rid of things you no longer need.  As we get ready to pack up our things I decided I am not going to take my medals with me. I have displayed them in our dinning area for the past year on a home made medal hanger. I was so excited when I found this bed frame to use for my medal hanger. I got to hang my medals, look at them, talk about my races when friends came over and asked about them. However, these past few months I realized I don’t need them anymore. Sure they are fun, you are reminded of your accomplishments but I suppose I am at a place that they just don’t mean as much to me as they used to. This became apparent when I got home from my latest half marathon and realized I didn’t grab a medal at the end! I started to wonder if there was something I could do with them that would be useful to others. 

That is when I found Medals4Mettle. Medals4Mettle is a charity that gives runners the chance to pay it forward. You are able to gift your medal to those who, “are battling serious and debilitating illnesses and who have demonstrated similar courage and mettle in fighting those illnesses.” (M4M website). The first time I read about this charity I was so touched. Here is a brief history about how M4M came to be:

“The day after he finished the 2003 Chicago Marathon, Steven Isenberg, M.D., a head and neck surgeon in Indianapolis, paid a visit to a colleague who was hospitalized. The two men were a study in contrasts. Dr. Isenberg, 53, was on a postrace high. Les Taylor, who had prostate cancer, lay flat on his back with tubes running in and out of him.

At a loss for words, Dr. Isenberg pulled his finishers’ medal from his pocket and placed it around Taylor’s neck. “I want you to have this,” he said. “You are running a much more difficult marathon than the one I completed.”

Before he died, Taylor told Dr. Isenberg how much he treasured the medal. Those words inspired Dr. Isenberg to start Medals4Mettle in 2005, as a vehicle to collect runner’s medals which could be donated to those who are battling serious and debilitating illnesses and who have demonstrated similar courage and mettle in fighting those illnesses.

Certainly everyone cannot run a marathon, but people who are battling life-threatening illnesses and severe disabilities demonstrate mettle everyday. Marathon runners experience the cheers of support from total strangers as they run through the streets, and these same runners cheer the wheelchair competitors that they may pass on the course. Medals4Mettle celebrates our collective human courage, and our innate desire to reward and support each other as we all face life’s challenges.”

There are others that can get what they need from these medals. They have already given me what I needed. I love the idea of paying it forward. I will, however, be keeping all of my CIM medals and my SF Marathon medal because I ran that on my 30th birthday and it is really special to me.
Oh, and I’ll be keeping my Sloppy Moose RC medal too. It doubles as a bottle opener so I’ve gotta keep that. Necessities.   

Donating your medals is really easy! I packed them up and drove them up to Roseville Fleet Feet. On the Medals4Mettle site they have a list of chapters (places you can drop off medals) and I am lucky enough to live by one.


It is a little weird to have an empty wall where I once hung all of my medals. I now have NO idea how many half marathons I’ve run. I am sure one day I’ll forget how many marathons I have run too. I had a great experience as I removed all of my medals off the hanger though. As I took them down and placed them in the box I remembered each race. I remembered where I was in my life at that time, remembered how I felt crossing the finish line, the PR’s I received or even how shitty a race was…even if they weren’t great I am grateful to be able to run them. It was a nice walk through memory lane and it made me super thankful that I began running.

I’ll never know who gets my medals or what kind of adversities they are facing but I know that running a marathon and having complete strangers cheer for you is an amazing feeling of support and in my own little way I can pass on that feeling to others.


2 thoughts on “Paying It Forward

  1. Ugh. This computer is messing up.
    Anyhow, I had posted a long thing about a similar idea to what you are saying here, but I’ll shorten it. There is a group called I Run 4 which is similar to what you are describing. You actually get paired up with a “buddy” who is unable to run for many different reasons, and you dedicate your runs to them….as well as send them your medals and things you may get at your races. Add a whole new meaning to running:)

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