Stanley Ellis once related, “In the world of nature, hard is part of the circle of life. It is hard for a baby chick to hatch out of that tough eggshell. But when someone tries to make it easier, the chick does not develop the strength necessary to live. In a similar way, the struggle of a butterfly to escape the cocoon strengthens it for the life it will live.”
“Through these examples, we see that hard is the constant! We all have challenges. The variable is our reaction to the hard.”1
On June 26th, my friend, Wendy, will be running 21 miles. She has been training for months to accomplish this goal. Wendy is a beautiful example of a person who can do hard things. Running 21 miles can be grueling, but Wendy’s inspiration for the run is the hardest, most difficult challenge of her life. Each step of those 21 miles is a tribute to her son, Kyle, honoring the 21 years of his young life. This is Wendy’s reaction to “the hard”.
Wendy shares, “My son Kyle died by suicide on February 16, 2020. He was a light to those that knew him, and he had the most joyful laugh. I wanted to do something in memory of him as well as draw awareness to depression. I set the goal to run 21 miles for each year we were blessed to have him in our lives. Kyle felt best when he was outdoors being physically active. I envisioned family and friends joining in, but as the depression and suicide rates increased, I felt compelled to encourage more people to join in. Physical activity plays an important role in combatting depression.”2
Recently Wendy shared the following post on her Facebook page:
In 9 days, God willing, I’ll be doing 21 Miles for Kyle! I’ve really been struggling being alone on the long runs. It’s unlike the training for the 3 marathons I’ve done. This one has more purpose; and I’m doing the training on my own. I’ve been thinking of the correlation to life in general when we go through hard times. We are meant for relationships; to spur each other on when we feel like we can’t take another step. We need each other for the ups and downs we face…and there have been plenty of hardships this past year for all of us. Reach out and be a light in someone’s life today. And if you need a friend because you feel like you can’t take another step, reach out and let someone know. You matter and you have purpose. @only7seconds #only7seconds #becauseyoumatter #21milesforkyle
Wendy learned about the Only7Seconds movement shortly after her son’s passing. She loved the message of spreading hope. Only7Seconds was founded in 2018 by Kristin Wall, after a family member experienced loneliness that led to depression. After hearing so many stories of loneness, and seeing it’s effects first hand, Kristin recognized that even a simple text could make a difference – and it only takes SEVEN SECONDS!
Wendy now leads a “Share Team”. The team gathers on the 7th of every month to spread hope, and remind others that they are not alone. During the 2021 Apple Blossom Parade, members of Wendy’s team represented Only7Seconds.
Only7Seconds recognizes that in “2020, COVID-19 hit the entire world. Isolation, mandatory lock-downs and social distancing has pushed loneliness further into the public conversation. Isolation has led to drastically increased loneliness, along with numerous other mental health concerns. Multiple recent suicides in Washington State have brought to light a growing need for conversation around mental health and connection.“
I don’t know a single person who has not been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been the “hard thing” for the world to face. Join courageous Wendy, and bring awareness to depression. Reach out to someone in a simple way; a text, a phone call, a post-it note. Smile and compliment someone at the grocery store. Give a hug. Write a letter. And on June 26th, do something to honor someone YOU love. The Because You Matter Run/Walk/Hike/Bike is your chance to get outside, and fundraise for something that matters. You choose whether you want to run, walk, bike, or hike in honor of a specific person in your life. This is a virtual event, so you can participate wherever you are!
It has been said, “It doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger.” We can be stronger together. And you are not alone. #Only7Seconds
1“Do We Trust Him? Hard Is Good” by Stanley Ellis