For those of you who haven’t heard her story, Sherry Arnold was a wife, a mother, a friend, a teacher and a runner. She lived in a small town in Montana with her husband and two children. Everything I have read about her (mostly on her cousin Beth’s blog, Shut Up and Run) makes me feel very connected to her, as though I would have wanted to know her and call her my friend. She was a good person with a big heart. One Saturday morning in early January she set out for a run (at 6:30am) and never came home. About a mile from her house she was abducted and murdered by two men. The day of her disappearance, Beth posted about it and at the time they did not know where she was or what had happened to her. The only evidence they found was one of her running shoes along her route. It was confusing, terrifying, heartbreaking and so so so sad.
My running buddies and I have been meeting up this winter once or twice a week at 5:30am. It is cold and dark at that hour. We wear our reflective gear and our headlamps. The gentle silence of the morning, the whisper of our footsteps and our breathing, the moonlit sky slowly painted a deep blue as the sun rises to greet us. These runs are special – it is time with my friends and time with my thoughts – a wonderful way to begin a new day before heading home to start the chaos of the morning routine with three kids. After learning of Sherry’s disappearance I found that these runs became scary for me. For the first week or two following the news, we would talk about it and I would feel a sense of fear and sadness that I could not seem to escape. I felt anger well up inside of me, too. I wanted to DO something about it – to find her, to help her family, to make it all better. But of course, there wasn’t anything I felt that I could actually DO to make a difference, to turn things around.
So I prayed about it. And I ran. I ran for Sherry, I ran for her family. Every time I laced up my shoes I would think of her and my run would become a prayer. A way for me to stand up to the evil that happened to her. Beth encouraged us to not let what happened to Sherry prevent us from running. My fear became determination. I will not run in fear – I will run with a heart full of goodness and run strong for what I believe in.
This weekend – on Saturday, February 11th – Beth has organized a virtual run for Sherry. All across the globe people are going to be running for Sherry. There is a bib you can print out and wear on your run. Any distance at all – just wear the bib and run with Sherry on your heart.
My running buddies and I have 22 miles on tap for Saturday, and we will be wearing the bibs too. I love Beth’s words:
If you are “getting after it” by pinning on Sherry’s bib, you are part of a collective and massive movement for healing. You are part of an effort to expand goodness. You are sharing your despair, grief and anger with your community, which allows these feelings to resonate and to be validated. You are remembering Sherry by doing something she loved. You are the light edging out and defeating darkness.
Are you running for Sherry this weekend? For more information and to print the bib, you can go to THIS LINK on Beth’s blog.