Last week I had the honor of meeting (and running 10 miles with) Sarah Benson, a 21 year-old, rising Senior at Loyola University of Chicago who is training for the Chicago Marathon!
Aside from being an awesome runner, Sarah is a remarkable young woman with a HUGE heart. She’s already the Director of International Operations for a world-changing non-profit, Kids Caring 4 Kids, which supports kids in Africa. Last semester she served in a children’s home in South Africa for five months. And she traveled alone to Zambia to serve orphans.
"In each experience I was terrified," says Sarah. "But each has proven to be one of the best experiences of my life. It’s when I have put myself outside my comfort zone that I feel like I learned and grew the most."
Wise words from such a young woman. Thank you for inspiring us Sarah! You are truly something special!
Name: Sarah Benson
City: Chicago, IL
What’s your favorite way to stay active? My favorite way to stay active is to run. Running keeps me grounded because it reminds me that each step leads to something larger. It forces me to value every step I take.
What charities do you like to support with Charity Miles? Pencils of Promise and She’s The First.
What’s your greatest accomplishment— active or otherwise? It’s hard for me to say my greatest accomplishment because I feel lie I have mini accomplishments every day that I think are great.
I’m such a klutz that I feel awesome when I don’t spill my coffee all over me, when I make the subway on time, or when I don’t whack something or someone with my awkwardly long limbs.
I do know, however, that I feel extremely proud and accomplished every time I have put myself outside my comfort zone; like when I ran a hilly trail in DC (Chicagoans like flat), when I traveled alone to Zambia to hear the stories of double and single orphans, when I studied and served in a children’s home in South Africa for five months, when I ran a half-marathon, or when I came to intern in NYC without ever visiting the city. In each experience, I was terrified. But each has proven to be one of the best experiences of my life. It’s when I put myself outside my comfort zone that I feel like I learned and grew the most.
What/who inspires you to stay healthy/make a difference? My mother inspires me to stay healthy and make a difference. She has a chronic illness called Ehlers-Danlos. It’s extremely hard on the body and I’ve watched her struggle to sit on the couch. I have learned to never take health for granted.
Where is one place you’d most like to walk, run or bike? The Lakeshore Path in Chicago. Watching the sunrise over Lake Michigan while running is pretty priceless.
Do you have any tips for others on how to take steps towards improving their well-being? Believing you have a purpose and have value in this world helps motivate you to improve your well-being, because then you want to be healthy to see that purpose through.
What are your health/fitness goals? To run the Boston Marathon and to be able to do a push-up. [Editor’s note- LOL!]
Are there any recipes on the Humana Pinterest board you’d like to try? Yes, the black bean brownies sound interesting.
What’s one thing Humana can do to help you live a healthier lifestyle? I would love to see recopies with the science behind what the food in the recipe does for your body.
Are you training for anything? The Chicago Marathon!
What is the best health advice you’ve ever received? One time I asked my grandfather how he stayed so healthy. He told me he “thinks it.” At first, I thought he was insane, but then his answer started to make more sense. He told me that if I “think it” to be healthy, then eventually I will start acting healthy. It’s our will to do things that leads us to action.
Also, another piece of advice I thought was great was not to listen to all the advice I received. It’s important to research because a lot of health advice out there is misleading. An apple a day does not always keep the doctor away and “diet” foods aren’t always healthier for you.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself in your own words? I’m currently a senior at Loyola University of Chicago with a focus on international and peace studies. I’m a tall and awkward woman that is terrified of blood, is a coffee addict and loves bracelets, running, old dresses, traveling, Lake Michigan, gingersnaps and thunderstorms.
I have a heart for vulnerable children and want to be a mother to nations. I’m the Director of International Operations for Kids Caring 4 Kids and believe everyone has true value, talents and a purpose. I feel the most at home when I’m on my knees and serving others.
I like Charity Miles because it is an incredible reminder that a community of people can change the world and every story/mile matters. Charity Miles allows me to take something that I love, running, and use it to help the lives of others.