“All of the prayers and Running For Two kindness worked. The above picture was taken on my first visit back to Rock Cut State Park. On that day, I was only able to walk. I am now healed, and have been running for months. It is time to be thankful for all of my amazing running friends and celebrate my health and the gift of life.” – Brian Drendel
RUNNING FOR KFP
Running for Kung Fu Panda
by Kelly Galluzzo
Running For Two (RFT) had an extremely positive impact on Brian Drendel (fondly known by his fellow trail runners as Kung Fu Panda or KFP), during a rather sudden and unexpected turn in his life. Early in 2011 he began running for two reasons. First reason was as a way to support a good friend who wanted to complete her first 5K and second as the next step in a long-term life style change to improve his health and better manage his weight. Over a period of three years, Brian had lost a total of 55 pounds.
On November 25th, 2012, Brian set a PR in a half marathon race, obtaining his target of completing the race in less than 2 hours. He could not have been happier when he crossed the finish line, but had no idea how quickly that would change.
The very next day, on the afternoon of Monday, November 26th, Brian collapsed at his office and was hospitalized with what doctors found as a large non-cancerous polyp on his colon. After numerous complications with surgery and recovery, Brian returned home. During his hospital stay his friends were Running For Two. They were running for him! Brian says thanks to R42, he is back and feeling better than ever.
• What did you know about the Running for Two (R42) story before you had your health issues?
I knew very little about the initial R42 story at the time that I fell ill. Occasionally I would see someone with an orange bandana and would ask around. I only knew that it was to be running for someone who falls ill and can’t run. Since then, I have read the background story on the Annie’s Locker website and found it to be a whole lot more that I knew from just asking around on the trails.
• How did the story affect your life and running once you became ill?
The R42 story has impacted my life in significant ways. I went through some difficult times and at times the doctors had no idea what was wrong. R42 provided the inspiration and motivation that I needed to fight through my illness. Even when I got out of the hospital, my fight to recover and get back to running was not over. I needed to show all of those who were running and praying for me that I was going to be ok and get back to running at a level that I was before I became ill.
• What do you find most inspiring and motivating about R42?
What is most inspiring is to know that you have the strength and prayers of your running community behind you. On the bad days I would draw on that strength to help battle through the hard times. From the very first day I was in the hospital I received the incredible support and prayers of all of my running friends. My new friends were Running for Two. They were running for me! I cannot express how much each prayer, get well card, text, visit, email, and mile run in my name meant to me. My running friends were changing their Facebook profile pictures to the Running For Two bandanas, and I had so many positive and supportive Facebook messages and posts. One Coyote friend even brought me a stack of magazines. Hidden inside of each magazine was a note containing special positive healing messages. On days that I was strong enough to read, I would read the magazines and look forward to finding my inspirational note. That was special to me.
• What is one thing you’d like to share with others about the R42?
R42 shows how unselfish and kind in nature the human spirit can be. Until you are in the position of being so sick that you can’t function, there is no way to understand just how inspiring and how much strength you can draw from those around you dedicating their thoughts, prayers and miles to you.
July 2013 Update: Since the time that I originally wrote my Running For Two story, my recovery continued at a steady pace. It took over a month to
go from walking to my first running steps.
It then took another three months to get a running base established. I ran that 5K with my friend that started my running. I also ran a 10K trail race with my Coyote and Squirrel friends in Wisconsin. These were both very special events for me. My recovery is going so well, that I have signed up for the Fox Valley Marathon this fall! Thanks to Running For Two, I am back and feeling better than ever.
Finding Strength in the Miles
by Vaughn Ehrhardt
Northern Illinois Trail Runners Organization, DeKalb, IL.
Our friend and running club member Brian Drendel’s supposed short hospital stay extended, then extended again, catching us all rather flat-footed in response. As the severity of Brian’s evolving condition became more apparent, we needed to spring into action. Annie’s Locker and the Running for Two program was a natural fit to adopt to our situation.
Remembering Rockford Road Runner, Armando Quinones’ crisis and the Running For Two reaction of his friends, we tailored our response to fit. Blending Google services, we set up an online forum where Running For Two contributors could donate their miles and encouragement to Brian. All responses dumped to a spreadsheet where a simple SUM command totaled the mileage. For ease of public viewing, the mileage totals were then posted back live on a website page set up to run our program. The added benefit to using Google services was that we could share the response spreadsheet with Brian so in the hospital, strength permitting, he could read and hopefully find strength in the outpouring of response. Our Running For Two translation can still be observed at: http://www.nitroruns.org/brian.
We are very happy and proud to have Brian back running among us, and thankful for the existence of Annie’s Locker and Running for Two.