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Might be safe to say that most people choose to take it easy and accept gifts for their birthdays. But one man marked a milestone in his life by taking a hard run, and giving a gift to others. Reed Galin follows his trail.
(Locator: Richardson, Texas)
Mike Lightfoot wanted to make his 50th birthday one to remember.
Mike Lightfoot, First United Methodist Church: “I felt like I needed to do something, just to prove something to myself.”
That something surprised Mike’s fellow members at First United Methodist Church in Richardson, Texas.
Catherine Burdette, Church Member: “We thought he was crazy.”
Mike wanted to run the Comrades Marathon in Durban, South Africa…a 56-mile foot race with a 12 hour time limit.
Mike didn’t train alone. He asked others to walk or run 5,600 miles before the race.
Mike Lightfoot: “That was going to average out to about a mile a day, per person.”
The challenge was more than physical. Mike wanted to inspire fundraising for Africa.
Mike Lightfoot: “People are dying, literally, for lack of water.”
The church stepped up again and raised 22,000 dollars…enough to dig wells in three African communities.
Mike Lightfoot: “The fact that they were able to give only $56 per family, and be able to make such a difference in people’s lives all the way across the world, that’s inspiration right there.”
While supporters back home surpassed their goal, Mike strained his Achilles heel in Durban and fell short of the finish line.
Mike Lightfoot: “I had to make a decision, at about 42 miles, do I stop or do I keep going? I thought, ‘I got a lot of people cheering for me, this isn’t just about me.’”
So Mike pushed on eight more miles and stopped at a fitting place.
Mike Lightfoot: “I put my sights on 50 miles. 50th birthday. 50 miles. Ended up being a perfect thing.”
The Comrades Marathon happens every year in May in Durban, South Africa. Mike Lightfoot says he still dreams of crossing that finish line and hasn’t ruled out another attempt in the future. You can contact Mike through his church, First United Methodist in Richardson, Texas, at 972-235-8385.
Also, see: Runner’s quest brings wells to Africa
Posted: July 8, 2009