Another guest blog from our very own Roger Long!

In my first post, I touched on why it’s important to me to use the Charity Miles app whenever I’m walking, hiking, or running. I also mentioned that I’m training for the 38th Marine Corps Marathon in October. I’m doing it to honor my sons’ service in the Marine Corps and for others with PD. It’s been a long road to get to this point. For years, I walked with the aid of a cane and leg brace, which were needed due to the effects of Parkinson’s on my gait. During that time, I was envious of people who could walk normally and extremely envious of people who could run. I dreamed about what it would be like to once again move with total control over my body. I felt like a prisoner dreaming about freedom.

In October 2010, I was inspired by my sons to try to get better. I set the cane and brace aside and walked more than a half mile for the first time in years. It was the beginning of an incredible walk of faith. That walk eventually became the hike (the 26.2 mile Bataan Memorial Death March in New Mexico), and the hike eventually became the climb (Mt. Kilimanjaro). Along the way, many people inspired me; people who devote their time and energy to causes and charities that make our world a better place, people who’ve overcome significant life challenges to accomplish incredible things. I’d like to tell you about one such person.

I was introduced to Matt Wilbur by a mutual friend, fellow Team Fox member, and Kilimanjaro teammate, Mike Dubin. Matt is in his early 60’s and has had Parkinson’s for more than decade. He’s run more than 30 marathons, completing several after his diagnosis for Team Fox, most notably the 2009, 2010, and 2011 Ing New York City Marathons. The 2012 marathon was to be his last, but after it was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, Matt thought his marathon career had come to a premature end. However, friends, colleagues and fellow Team Fox members put together the One Step Ahead of Parkinson’s Disease Marathon in Cincinnati for Matt (read about it here). It was a great way for Matt to finish his marathon career, but running for the joy of running didn’t end for him on that day. He continues to inspire and motivate. I’m proud to know him and call him my friend.

Earlier this year, Matt (in the yellow shirt), Mike Dubin and I hiked in the 2013 Bataan march, which was my second. Along the way, he inspired me to believe that I could not only run again, but run the marathon distance. I’m now past the halfway mark of training for the MCM, and I’m beginning to understand just how difficult running a marathon is for anyone, especially for a beginner in his late 40’s.

I look for inspiration to run in many places, and the Charity Miles user community is a consistent source. Just knowing there are thousands of other people using the app with their own convictions and personal stories of overcoming hardship to give back motivates me to continue on the road I’m on. Just a few weeks ago, I ran my first race in more than 20 years, the Missionary Ridge Road Race in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I finished near the back of the pack, but it didn’t matter. It felt like… freedom.

I encourage you to share your stories of why you use the app via Facebook, Twitter, and tumblr. You never know who you will inspire to get out and contribute some miles to very worthwhile charities.

Stay tuned for more from Roger!